School is out. Summer vacation has just begun. My daughter is a recent graduate of the fourth grade and she is ecstatic. She is experiencing that feeling of freedom that comes with youth and the beginning of summer. The days seem endless and the end of August seems somewhere on the far end of eternity.
But this summer is special for Erin. She doesn't realize this yet. She will not realize it for a long time, and when she does it will be a bittersweet memory. This is her last summer of innocence. Erin is now standing at a crossroad. When she crosses that road nothing will ever be the same for her and she can never go back.
Erin is about to learn all about one of the great mysteries of humankind; the secret of life. She will learn what it is to be a woman and to have a woman's body. She will learn about the role of the man in this process and hopefully she will learn about the importance of love for one special person; the thing that gives meaning to this mystery.
As her father, I have mixed emotions about this. I want to protect her from this knowledge, yet I want to see her grow up and mature into a normal adult. I know that I cannot have it both ways. So, Erin's crossroad has become my own.
On the day she was born I was in the operating room holding her mother's hand while the doctors closed the Cesarean section. The nurses cleaned Erin up, put a funny hat on her head, wrapped her in a blanket and handed her to me. Immediately all the love of my being came pouring forth and I thanked God for this great mystery of life and for women like my wife, and above all for this innocent child who would call me her father.
This is the last summer of that innocence.
If I were given three wishes, I would wish
- to enjoy this summer to the fullest possible extent.
- To look back on the past with fondness and not regret the passage of time.
- For the understanding and the courage to move forward.
This summer may seem like an eternity to Erin. But I am sure it will pass with the blink of an eye.
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