I remember teaching you to ride a bicycle. You were so scared, the bicycle so big. It was, in truth, a tiny machine, long since sold at a yard sale. On that morning, however, it was your Goliath to conquer, your stallion to tame and to claim.
“Deeda, hold on tight. You won’t let go, will you?”
Never, if I have the choice.
So up and down the sidewalk we went, you gripping the handlebars, me gripping the back of the seat, both of us holding on for dear life. At first it was all I could do to keep you upright, your natural inclination being to kiss the pavement. Little by bit, you steadied, you strengthened, and you began to pull away.
I felt it before you did…the balance, the control, the confidence coursing through your little body. I still held on, but my hand was superfluous. I held on not for you, but for me.
“Deeda, you’re still holding on, right?”
Right, but…I can’t hold on forever, can I?
Oh please, God…can I?
I remember—I know it sounds crazy, but I remember—the first glimpse of daylight between my hand and the seat post. I remember the feel of the metal as it slipped from my fingertips
and I saw, in that flicker of a moment, that this was the pattern of my life.
I have always known, from the moment I first held you, that letting go was part of the job. Because, of course, you are not mine—you belong to your Heavenly Father, and he has plans that will take you far beyond my puny grasp. I have always known that my job was to prepare you to leave.
But knowing doesn’t make it easier. Trust me on that.
So do your old man a favor, huh? Cut me some slack when it comes to the whole “Letting go” thing. I may not always release as quickly as I should—or at least, as quickly as you would like. I’ve had nightmares of you driving off to college, dragging me along by the bumper as I try to attach training wheels to the car.
I promise not to do that.
By the way, watching you ride your bike that long-ago morning was pure delight. It was a delight that I pray you get to experience one day, the happiness that comes from seeing your beloved child head out boldly into the great big world. So those tears in my eyes, yeah, those were pure joy—joy tempered by loss, joy strengthened by sacrifice.
The joy of being a dad.