By Stephen Doherty
April 25th, 2021
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
One of my favorite songs is “Hello, Goodbye,” by The Beatles. While listening to it on the radio this week – it hit me particularly hard in light of my daughter’s pending graduation from The University of Colorado – Boulder. Because I’ve come to realize that life is merely a parade of entrances and departures. Exits and arrivals. Beginnings and endings. And yes…hellos and goodbyes.
There was a time when I couldn’t bear the thought of my little baby growing up. Now? I can’t wait to see what life holds for her on this next leg of her (and my) journey. There’s a reason we revel in the completion of each chapter. It’s because few things are more exciting and more liberating than a blank sheet of paper and a pen to begin the always inevitable next chapter.
A wise man once said that “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will always reward you with a new hello.” Hello – goodbye -hello. And on and on it goes.
In the context of our ever changing lives I have also come to believe that gratitude is a superpower. I wake up everyday with the knowledge that I have been blessed beyond belief. I think people tend to forget or dismiss just how good they have it. Let’s be clear – life is challenging and hard and difficult and rife with disappointments, heartbreak, and defeat.
Few of us have been spared the miles of rocks and glass and none of us is absent permanent scars and still visible wounds. We’ll all look back someday and treasure the mountains we climbed and the holes we climbed out of and the mistakes we overcame.
The quality and character of our lives will never be defined by what we did – but always by how we responded to it and what we learned along the way. I would never wish hardship on anyone but a life without it – is hardly worth living.
My daughter is graduating absent the gala and festivities and celebration that normally accompany such epic life moments. None-the-less, she is milking the moment and marking the event as something wonderful and significant, in her own unique way within the framework of very difficult national circumstances.
Like me, (and the rest of us) she has made her share of mistakes – usually from the exercise of bad judgment and questionable choices – but she went into college a wild-eyed teenager and she is emerging as a beautiful (and educated) young woman with nothing in front of her but vast horizons and unlimited possibilities!
I rarely weep when writing, but my tears flowed as I penned these thoughts. I can assure you, however, that tears of joy and excitement are far different than those emanating from tragedy and loss. I was talking with a friend recently about our mission as parents and I told her that my primary goal as a dad was to raise my kids to be the kind of neighbors that people would brag about.
Mission accomplished! Whatever they end up doing with the rest of their lives will be greatly influenced and guided by their intelligence, kind hearts, and sweet souls. As a parent, who could ask for more?
There are moments, for all of us, when we wish we could go back and give one more hug to the toddler in the pink pajamas. It’s called being human. Rather than lament that we can’t – we can forever treasure that we once did.
For me…that’s more than enough as I continue to marvel at what lies ahead! Why? Because while reading a great book will always be one of my favorite past-times…watching someone you love craft their own ongoing story is something that never ceases to take my breath away. I cannot wait to see what lies beyond the next bend in the road…
“Things do not change.
We change.” –Henry David Thoreau