Starting Point
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Issue Date:  September 24, 2004

Starting Point


The years passed by quickly. Our daughter was starting kindergarten. It was a new chapter in all of our lives.

Looking back it seemed like all three of us -- Cara, Mom and Dad -- were looking forward to this moment. Cara was excited about her new school, new friends and new uniform. Her parents were excited as well at the new challenges she would face and there being one less child to entertain all day.

But as I’ve discovered, letting go of Cara is not as easy as I anticipated. This holds true not just for me but for the rest of the family. When my wife dropped her off the first day, Cara quickly said goodbye and joined her classmates in line to go into school. Her younger brother Brendan, however, caused quite the scene. He was in for a shock when he found out that Cara would not be spending her day with him as usual. For the better part of two and a half years they had been constant companions. As he saw her leave, his cries of “Cara! ... Cara … !” were heard by all.

A few days later it was my turn to drop her off. As we walked toward school, there was an early morning chill. She said, “Pick me up, Daddy. I’m cold.” Gladly, I picked her up and placed my arms around her. With her in my warm embrace, I looked around the parking lot and playground. Kids were running around, parents were talking with one another. Life was happening very quickly. I got the sense that this moment with Cara should be treasured as soon such moments would be few and far between.

Then the bell rang. Cara got down and lined up. I had a harder time saying goodbye than she did. Thinking she didn’t hear me, I said it again. Now amongst friends, she said, “I know, Daddy. I heard you the first time.”

As I walked back to my car to go to work, I thought of the Ascension scene in John’s Gospel. Prior to his ascension he tells Mary Magdalene, “Stop holding on to me” (20:17). Similarly, I have to let go of the baby girl I know and seek to protect so the young, independent girl can emerge.

Though difficult, it is as it should be.

Mike Daley teaches theology at Xavier High School in Cincinnati.

National Catholic Reporter, September 24, 2004

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