The moment came and went silently, no one noticing that we had turned a significant page in the story of our family. No one comprehending that everything had suddenly changed and that life between us would always be just a little bit different. I’m not sure how long it had been before it occurred to me that this monumental moment had passed unnoticed, but when it did I began to search my memory, trying desperately to find it again so that it could be properly recorded and remembered in the way milestones like this deserve. But no matter how hard I tried I could not find it again, I could not pinpoint the exact minute it happened. Realizing that I had carelessly let this moment slip by made me both sad and angry, upset that I tossed this one event into the pile of other meaningless memories that I had collected through the normal course of the day.
What was this forgotten moment?
It was the last time I ever held Jake.
After years of picking up and holding my little boy in my arms there came a day when I picked him up and then I put him down. I put him down and I never picked him up again.
Let me assure you this wasn’t the result of a thoughtful decision, this was not a day we circled on the calendar. It just happened without thought or plan, without understanding or intention. Believing there would always be another opportunity I simply lowered him to the ground and we moved on to the next stage of our relationship without recognition or fan fare. Last month Jake turned 12, and 12 year olds aren’t much for being held. Even if he wanted me to it has almost become a physical impossibility. With some effort I can still get him off the ground, but the days of a daddy effortlessly scooping up and holding his little boy came to an end somewhere in our past and, for the life of me, I cannot remember when it happened. Today my little girl turns six and we move even closer to repeating that same sad moment, but we are not there yet.
She still looks up and asks, “Daddy will you hold me?” and knowing how temporary it all is I have made a commitment to pick her up and hold her for as long as she will let me.
So yes, Elle, I will hold you. I will hold you for as long as I possibly can. Because one day, without either one of us knowing it, I will pick you up, hold you close, and then casually put you down for the last time.