TITLE: A Small Goodbye That Seems So Big AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: September 01, 2011 4:09 PM DESC: ----- BODY: I just gave my older daughter a tearful final kiss and hug and left her in the care of the small liberal arts college that will be her home for most of the next four years. I have tried to prepare myself for this moment over the last year, weeks, and days. Nothing could have prepared me for how I feel at this moment. College faculty and administrators like to speak these days about the "transformative experience" that college will be for their students. After all these years of my wife and I doing everything we knew how to help our daughter grow into the poised, creative, curious, engaging, delightful young woman she has become, it's hard for me to imagine how much more she can grow. Yet we know she will. As she returns to us on breaks and summer vacations (we hope!), I expect not to meet a new person, but the same Sarah we have come to know and respect and love all these years. She will surely know herself better than she does now, and that will open a new side of her to us. I am eager to watch her become ever more who she is and who she wants to be. I am eager to get to know her more, again, and still. Her future excites me. But at this moment, I hurt as only a father or mother can. In her invocation at today's convocation, the college chaplain prayed that the students of the Class of 2015 find "clarity of purpose". I like that phrase. Clarity of purpose can serve as a capable foundation for all these students will do. In many ways, they begin their lives anew today. But not every young person in that quad today is just a member of the Class of 2015. One of them is my daughter, with whom I have spent so much time for the last eighteen years, teaching her and being taught by her in turn. I have a hard time imagining what those years would have been like without her -- without her boundless energy, without her love of life and books and people, without her smile and hugs. Or without her patient tutelage of a young man who occasionally lacks clarity of purpose in some things but whose sense of duty to her has never wavered.