Saturday, December 29, 2012


About 14 or 15 months ago, I started writing something that would try and describe all the emotions and feelings that I have for my daughter, who was about to turn 18.

The concept of "writer's block" is real, but that's never stopped me. I figure you can always power through somehow.

But it didn't work in that case. It's not that I couldn't have polished off something and posted it, but it wouldn't be adequate.

I have that problem still today, when Bailey enters her final teenage year.

Children change your view about the entire world. In a way, even if you aren't with them, they are always with you. Every experience, every event is filtered through a prism of considering how it effects them.

I guess my daughter is one of the children of 9/11. For her and millions her age, that horrible day is one of their first big memories. And although the aftermath probably hasn't been quite as telling, since they were very young, they've always been part of a nation at war.

This may have a terrible impact at some point. How could this not skew their views? They've been raised in a climate of fear and hate. I feel bad for them.

Of course, Bailey has also been the child of a broken marriage. I remember too clearly those things, and wonder how it has changed her life. Few children escape unscathed from their parents' divorce. I carry a lot of guilt about it, for how it may have hurt her. As she matures fully into adulthood, I wonder if we will have a chance to talk about it. Not being the custodial parent, I haven't had as much of an opportunity to answer those questions.

There has been an appreciable physical distance between us for eight years now. It's been made more substantial by moving to New England as she moves through her freshman year of college in Texas. We don't get to spend much time together, and I miss her, a lot.

She's a beautiful, tall, smart young girl groping her way out of the cocoon. Even from a distance I am able to tell that she is facing the typical issues someone her age must overcome: those first tentative steps into the real world. I worry about her.

As I've gotten a little older, I've become less of the crier that I have been in the past. I'm not sure this is a good thing. The thousands of dollars I spent with Dr. Quack talking about the ugly nooks and crannies of my mind yielded mostly resentment and did not save my marriage. If anything, that bullshit hastened its demise. But a few good things came from it. One was an appreciation of the role of my parents and their foibles. Another was a comfort with my own tears.

I used to spend most of those $150 hours in tears. I hated it. One day I lamented that it seemed that my expenses were simply dissolved in the practice of crying.

Dr. Quack pointed out that crying was a very accurate reflection of true emotional distress. Dr. Quack asked: "If none of this affected you and you didn't feel it, would that be better? Would you rather just be cold to it?"

For one of the few times, Dr. Quack was right. Crying means you're still in touch with your emotions. As painful as it is, it's a good sign.

So even though I don't seem to cry as often as I once did, missing Bailey can turn on the tears in a flash.  It takes a fight to hold them back as I am at this instant.

There's 2,000 miles of physical distance, and that makes me sad. But for me, Bail-O is always here. And that makes me happy.

Anyway, happy birthday, sweet little girl. Your dad loves you. Now where's the goddam Kleenex?


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