Wide Awake: And So It’s September
Facing the month I knew would arrive

This is the month when everything changes. My oldest daughter, Klein, is now in college, living a new, awesome life. We are here living our awesome lives – only without her.

When she graduated in June, I wrote about how I knew this day was coming. I was doing pretty good focusing on the celebration of graduation instead of the loss that lied ahead. That worked for June. But now it’s September, and there really isn’t any celebrating, so I’m fighting the frequent tendency to focus on the loss.

For years, I would marvel at how quickly my daughters were changing, growing and blossoming. It was more of an age thing, though. When you go from 8 to 10 years old, you’re taller, smarter and a bit more interesting to have a conversation with. Going from 12 to 15 makes topics of conversation much more engaging – sometimes alarming – and now you’re looking at a young woman who looks different because she’s wearing makeup and jewelry.

But moving from high school into college isn’t just an age thing. In fact, Klein looks the same, and her ability to hold a conversation hasn’t changed in a long time. What has changed is that now she doesn’t need me to be a vital part of her life. That’s gone. I know that’s normal and wonderful, but it’s also painful.

Whenever I think of Klein as a little kid, I always go back to when she and I accompanied Joe on a business trip to Atlanta. It was a boring trip. Joe worked all day, and there wasn’t a lot to do with a toddler in Atlanta. So we hung out in the hotel lobby and took a lot of walks. There was a mall attached to the hotel that we went to every day. To get there, you had to go down a small staircase. And every day, I would struggle down with a stroller and toddler while business people passed by. I was always amazed that no one stopped to help us.

Those trips down the stairs gave me this strong feeling that I was in charge of caring for my daughter. We were making this trek on our own, and that was okay. We would get where we needed to go and have a happy time when we got there.

Our days on that trip were filled with just the two of us. No play dates, no mommy groups. Just us – bored, but together.

We’ve never had that same amount of alone time since. Eventually, when two sisters followed, alone time was pretty much out of the question. But no matter who else was in the room, I was still a pretty important figure.

I was fully involved in her life. I gave her permission to do things. I planned fun excursions. I knew her teachers and talked to them if there was a problem. I encouraged her to try out for a team and volunteered to help in the activities she liked. Almost every day, at some point, I sat next to her. We may not have talked, and it may not have been for very long, but we sat near each other in the same room. Almost every day.

That’s not going to happen anymore.

In June, I was happy for all that was to come for Klein. I tell people now that I still am, but it’s not really what I’m feeling. I’m feeling heartache for what I’m losing. I know I’ll get to the point where I feel the excitement and joy for her. But not right now. September has arrived, and everything has changed.

September 2012
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