My little girl graduated from high school this weekend.
Emotions are strange. It’s odd how you can be happy and sad at the same time. What would that dual happy/sad emotion be called, “Sappy?” As she joyfully grabbed her diploma and exited the stage, that’s how I felt, “sappy.”
As I sat there wondering how so many yesterdays had suddenly caught up and were passing me by, a handful of memories flashed through my mind. The first was when she was barely five years old and broke her collar bone while visiting grandparents. It was the age before cell phones so my wife couldn’t call me and warn me so I didn’t know until she walked off the plane and ran into my arms crying, “I hurt myself, Daddy.” I couldn’t pick her up and hug her because it hurt her too much.
I remembered teaching her how to ride a bike and discovering just how stubborn and determined my little girl could be. She left an ugly trail of skin and blood down the street with all her failed attempts, but despite my pleading to try again another day, she wouldn’t quit until she had figured it out. Her scars healed. Mine remain.
I remembered learning the first time she had a boyfriend. I had no idea who the creep was, but despised him instantly. I remembered how she lit up the stage with her school choir concerts. There must have been dozens of other girls on the stage, but somehow, I only recall one. I remembered her first prom and how my little girl had somehow transformed into a beautiful young lady in high heels and make up. My heart sank when the jaws of her date (another creep) fell open in awe as he saw the glamorous girl waiting for him.
I was joyfully brought back to the present when my daughter’s name was announced as the recipient of a special scholarship award for embodying the qualities the school looked for in student-athletes. Then I immediately felt “sappy” again as I realized how much I would miss attending her games.
When the diplomas had all been handed out and the caps flung into the air, I found her laughing and even crying a bit with her family and classmates. She came up to me ready for a hug and kiss. “Are you proud of me, Daddy?” she asked as we hugged.
“More than you’ll ever know,” I somehow managed to say in a voice that didn’t sound like mine. I’ve never been quite so…”sappy.”