Happy Birthday, Sam
Today is my daughter Sam’s 15th birthday.
Being 15 is pretty damn difficult, especially nowadays. Social media has increased peer expectations and decreased personal freedom, for kids.
I have to admit, even though I’m not one to rush time away… I’ll look forward to the day when Sam’s through all the teenage angst.
I wrote this for her when she was around 3 or 4 years old, and I hope you enjoy it. You can comment on about it below, if you’d like:
I love putting my daughter to bed. It’s one of the few times I have no problem relaxing and simply enjoying being right there in the moment.
We usually spend a lot of time talking about what went on during her day. We laugh and joke with one another… and then I cuddle her and she falls asleep cuddling her own safety net — a little doll she’s had almost all her life. (that she still has!)
Last night, I thought she was asleep, and when I started to get up and out of her bed… she said softly… with her eyes closed, “Don’t go daddy. Hold my hand.”
As long as I live, I will never forget this.
It was as pure and true a moment, as life can ever give you.
So I laid back down with her and I let her curl her little fingers around my thumb, while I gently cupped the rest of my fingers around the back of her hand.
As I looked at her, I realized there are certain distinct facial features that infants and young children have, that get lost as we get older.
For example, her lips.
There’s a thin line that separates your lips from the skin immediately around your lips, and this line is very defined when you’re young. But it loses its sharpness as you age through childhood. It’s as if fine sandpaper somehow slightly smoothes the edges down, the more you start speaking.
And her eyelashes.
You can see each individual long dark eyelash as if it were a strong yet soft feather… growing up out of her eyelids. Slightly thinner than a narrow pencil lead you slide into an automatic pencil… only bouncy and flexible, not rigid and stiff.
And as she’s falling asleep, I run my weathered fingers back through her silky fine blonde curls, and over her perfectly smooth round head. I can feel each of her hairs brushing in between my fingers, and over my clumsy and calloused hands, which, for some reason… don’t seem to be so clumsy at this moment.
As I’m looking down at her face and at her tiny little body, I’m hoping — with all the might I can muster up — that I will NEVER ever lose this exact feeling, or this exact memory.
That I can somehow permanently “burn” this moment into my mind like a craftsman burns a scene into a wooden block, creating a permanent etching of a log cabin, or perhaps a German shepherd.
I felt, perhaps more grateful in that moment… than ever before.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could recall images like this one, that are buried away inside your memory banks, automatically… the same way your elbow automatically twitches when you bang that one spot right behind it?
I’d love it.
This would be like a pre-packaged endorphin. The perfect pick-me-up whenever you’re down or frustrated about something — or whenever life’s punched you in the gut and you need help recovering.
As I’m here in this moment with her, it seems hard to think that life could be anything but perfect. Her little spirit is so bright and so warm, nothing could possibly diminish it.
Right now she is as light… and happy… as a kitten.
She is only the second woman in my life I’ve ever cared about — her mom (my wife) being the first. Both of them seem to have a soothing effect on me. Almost like “Beauty and the Beast.”
And as I’m laying here, I’m reminded about what’s important.
The truth is, there are no memories created while you are sitting in front of your computer. No fun experiences you’ll ever recall… and surely no “peak moments” you’ll look back on.
Work is nice, but as Anna Quindlen said, “No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
It is all just a means to an end — and hopefully an end you are making worthwhile.
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Quindlen also said, “Love the journey, not the destination.”
It’s hard to understand this until you get a few years on you, but it’s very important… and very true.
It’s the memories in life you carry around that make you or break you. Memories that either fill you up with happiness, or leave you feeling drained and empty and with nothing in your tank but sorrow and regret. And it’s important to keep this in mind.
On second thought, I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble remembering this moment.
At least… not for a good long while, anyway.
As a follow-up to this, here’s another great article on what girls really want from their dads.
Now go make some memories, Craig Garber
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Sativa – My Sleeping Karma (2010)