I saw it coming a year ago but that didn’t prepare me for the reality that she is no longer here. Oh, sure, she’ll be back but as a visitor or a guest, not a resident of this house where she grew up. Only two days have passed since I dropped my daughter off at the designated kiss-and-cry before she joined her orientation group. Yet there’s an emptiness in the house and my heart that lingers, while daily flotsam and jetsam of life are a constant reminder that the girl is gone. The Safeway where she bought baking supplies. The drive-through window at the bank where I’d sometimes let her press the buttons to withdraw cash. Our Prius, which she proudly drove everywhere after getting her license earlier this year. The adjacent bedrooms that she and her sister shared, and the giggling and squabbling that routinely emerged every night. Too quiet now. The coffee shop where I walked with her as a baby in her cadillac baby carriage and sat mesmerized for hours, just staring at her staring at the world.
Seventeen years seems like a long time but it flies. As much time or as little time as we make for our kids, we always wish for more. But in the everyday chaos that is life, we forget that there’s an expiration date that we never counted on coming so soon, and don’t notice it’s passed until they’re gone.