There is a nagging pain inside me today.

Yesterday, it finally happened. We loaded up her things and moved my Holly 150 miles down I-30 to Texarkana. Sure, it was time. She has paid her dues, gotten her education, worked hard to establish a life for herself, and now she is set to take flight.

I know that some may read this and roll their eyes. They will think, “Come on, Gene. She is 25. You have to let go sometime.”

Master's Degree!
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Master's Degree!

I couldn’t care less what such people think, to be honest. I give no weight to the judgment of those who laugh about your shoes hurting your feet when they have never taken a single step in those shoes. Where were they the morning she entered the world and our lives were forever changed by the simple words of a now-faceless nurse? Where were they when I waited for twelve hours in the surgery waiting room while her spine was reconstructed? Where were they when I scratched her belly with a coat hanger because she itched in that pink body cast she was stuck in for a full year? Where were they when I listened to her cry herself to sleep and then did the same myself?

Most everyone who meets her now falls in love with her on some level. They immediately recognize her depth, her beauty, her spirit, her wisdom. Those attributes did not come accidentally. There has been a lifetime of birth pangs in their delivery. But she has become…and now she is.

She needs me less than she ever has before. For that, I am both grateful and sad. Old habits die hard. So, pardon me if I take a moment to be lonely. Pardon me if there is a twinge of sadness at her departure. Pardon me if I wish I was still in the next room the next time she needed me.

But at the end of this journey, the question will not be whether her mother and I feathered the nest, or how we nurtured her. The question will be…

“Did she fly?”

I think I already know the answer…and I thank God for it.