18 Years

18 Years

The door closes softly,
yet so loudly
that it awakens
my grief.

I know you’ll
return home.
But you’ll never
return to your childhood.

I wasn’t done
being a dad.

Author’s Notes:

On each of the days my first two children left home for college, I remember them taking one last look around their bedroom and around the house, soaking up the memories. I could tell they were saying goodbye. Closing the door to their bedroom and to being a kid.

Sure, they would return home. But they would never return to childhood.

With the departure of each child, the house has gotten a little quieter. And with the last kid (the most vivacious one) heading off this fall, life will be all the more silent and still.

All I had wanted to be in life was a dad. Nothing gave me greater joy than playing, creating, laughing, and spending time with my kids.

When my oldest child left, I just wasn’t prepared for the grief it awakened in me. I had the sudden realization that the door was closing on my days of dadhood. No more chances to make memories. No more chat sessions to hear about her day and try to impart wisdom. No more ways to undo any mistakes I made in parenting.
After each child has left, I’ve always gone and sat in their empty bedroom awhile, replaying all the memories of the room, breathing in their scent, soaking myself in their childhood.

Sure, I’m still a dad, and happy to shift into the role of counselor and friend. But there will always be a part of me that wants to make up bedtime stories, wrestle around, do craft projects, play Minecraft, etc.

Maybe I also wasn’t done being a child. 😊

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