This year, my oldest daughter turned 18. She went to prom with her best friends in April, and in May, she graduated high school with high honors. She has a full ride to college this coming fall, where she wants to study medicine -to help people- and history - because she loves it.
I am so proud of her that sometimes I don't know how to contain such depth and breadth of feeling. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She is strong, stubborn, brave, soft-hearted, and works harder now than many people will in a lifetime.
I often wonder what it would have been like if I had met her sooner. You see, I met her on paper when she was already 5, in person just three months after she turned 6. The year before that, she was in an orphanage, and before that, with her birth family.
This kind of wondering is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is no way on earth I would rob her of those years, too precious and too few, with her birth mother. I don't know much about that blessed woman, and if I did, I wouldn't share, because that's my daughter's story, not mine. But I can tell from the way my girl moves through the world that she was loved from the first, and cared for as much as humanly possible under circumstances most of us can't imagine.
On the other hand, twelve years, well, it isn't really very much time at all. It's not enough time to tell her just how much I love her. It's not enough time to tell her I'm sorry for all the times I got this parenting thing wrong (and believe, me, there are LOTS of those!).
One beautiful April evening, I looked at her in her spectacular red prom gown and for a moment, all I could see was the little girl in the pixie cut running around in a Sleeping Beauty dress and dollar store tiara.
A week later, I watched her fly down the track in the 100-meter dash and beside her was the fierce little ballplayer who started stealing bases while only in tee-ball.
And the graduate? The one headed to college, who bought her own car, for whom we bought her very own Mac laptop? I don't even know what to say about her. I already said she is amazing. I don't think there is anything to add.
Except this. I know she is 18 and that it is time for her to fly. I believe in my heart of hearts that Lindsey Wilson is going to be an amazing experience for her. She reminds me of myself in that college seems like the place she's "supposed" to be. High school was just marking time while waiting for something bigger.
Even so, I can't help it. These 12 years with her by my side, they still don't feel like nearly enough.