I noticed the shadow bearing down on me from the far corner of my eye. Peeking around my office door, I saw her bounding through the living room and into the doorway. A slow smile spread from her heart-shaped mouth up into the crinkles of her eyes as she leaned over and hugged me.
"Goodnight, mom," she said, planting a kiss on my cheek. Her face was scrubbed clean, and she had the sweet scent of youth rising from her freshly washed hair.
I hugged her tightly to me, drinking in the smell of her, the feel of her. She was growing up so fast.
The crawling, toddling, curious preschooler had given way to this child that stood on the threshold of her teenage years. I could almost see her wings slowly unfurling, could almost see her testing their strength against the winds of change that swept faster and faster toward her.
How could I let her go? The world was a harsh place, filled with dangers and obstacles I couldn’t bear to see her endure. Would I fight the inevitable with tempting words of safety, with vain attempts to keep her eyes off the horizon when her spirit longed to soar into the realm of infinite possibilities?
How could I face the days that were just around the corner, the ones that saw her stiffening at the hint of a motherly hug? How would I feel when she pushed away any tiny embrace, shied away from any show of affection? Those days were coming quickly. I could hear them in the distance, an omnious thunder of warning riding those same winds of change she unknowingly longed for.
The time is not so far in the future when I'll have to let her go, returning her to the Father that entrusted me with her care. I'll have to place her in the much stronger, loving arms of an eternal parent, and find the faith to trust in His infinite wisdom, his sheltering presence, his perfect peace.
And what will I do then, when she’s gone? What will fill my time, my heart? What lies ahead for me?
Perhaps, I muse, she and I are not so different. We both stand on a precipice, only at different stages of life.
And could it be, I think, that my future is tied up in my ability to release her to hers? By focusing blindly on what I am losing, I have forgotten that there is still my place in His grand scheme of things.
Both of us are still His children.
I breathe out, exhaling the lingering fear. A sense of peace settles over me, and I hear a whisper, a soft-spoken word deep in my spirit. I feel the hand of my Father, gently urging me to look toward the horizon, to test the wings He's been preparing for me.
I can almost feel my spirit soar, riding the wind of unlimited possibilities.
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I can so relate to you, Hanne. I just released my 18 year old from the family "nest." I didn't think she was ready. She thought she was. She has been gone for a week, living with friends who aren't "up to my standards." They have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that they sometimes medicate in unhealthy ways. Did I see it coming? Not when she was twelve, or fourteen. Maybe by sixteen. And yet, two of those friends will be in church with her on Sunday. One of them is recovering from a drug overdose and tells me that he first experienced the love of God in my daughter's eyes. She is not his girlfriend--she is his "God-send." She is soaring and I am left praising God because he knows her better than I do and she is in His care.