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"From the Parking Lot"

From the Parking Lot

I see you waving, up there in the dorm window,
Up there where we left you with your tons of stuff that will not be enough,
With your roommate and new friends who will not know how to hear your heart.

How can I leave you?
There is so much I want to say.
"Bye, Dad," you said with the usual peck on my cheek.
"Bye, hon," I said, and the rest of the words stuck in my throat.
"I love you," I whispered.

Was that enough? Will you know how much you are loved? How much it breaks my heart to drive away?
Will you know?

I should have told you then.
Then, when you looked up to me, and waited at the window for me,
Then, when you pulled at my pants leg and reached out for my hand.
I should have told you how cherished you are, how perfect a gift, a treasure beyond measure,
I should have told you.

But I was in a hurry during those younger years, busy finding my way and reaching for dreams I could not fulfill.

I know that too often I brushed you aside for newspapers and meetings, for demands I imagined or made for myself.
I loved you then, I love you still,
More than my hidden heart will let me say,
More than my stumbling tongue can shape into sounds that you can hear.

I am proud of what you've become,
So quick of mind and spirit,
So loving and full of grace,
So ready with a smile and eager to help.

If I could, I would still sit on the floor and play childhood games with you,
Or walk the fields in the evening to see the sun set one more time,
Or stop on the shore to skip stones on the sparkling water,
Or catch your sleepy head on my shoulder as we read another same-old book.

Your life filled mine. Your panics defined my time.
Your calls and non-calls made my feet and my heart run faster.
Your laughter made even Mondays memorable.

And now, when you are gone, how will my arms for that remembered cradle?

I have no gift to give you, no treasure to make your future secure. I have no word that will banish all fear, no promise that will ease your cares.

I wish I could give you grace to live unafraid,
To keep you safe as you go beyond the limits of my anxious love,
To give you strength to stand tall when others would bring you down,
To have the confidence that comes from knowing that you are a treasured child.

If I could, I would shout out to you from right here in the parking lot to you up there on the fourth floor window of your future:
I will always love you - from now to eternity.
I will always love you with a love that is more than myself,
A love that is greater because you have shown me how to give it away.

My daughter, remember, now and forever, you are my cherished child.
My gift.
My friend.

- by Rev. Ted Schroeder

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