I was assured by veteran fathers of the bride that I would, in fact, lose it. And that once it started, there would be no stopping it. I agreed. There could be a moment when I leaked. I’d act act as if a bug flew into my eye.
But I didnt cry. Neither did Kerry. We’ve never cried at the big moments — the graduations, the first date, the first time I let go of the back of the bicycle seat. We cried a lot in between, during the steps along the way.
Part of it was because we always expected Jillian to do all those things. We never assumed she couldn’t do something. We still don’t. The Ohio drivers training manual sits on a side table in Jillian and Ryan’s bedroom.
We wouldn’t allow anyone or anything to define our “typical” son, Kelly. Why would we shackle Jillian to lesser expectations? We don’t always get what we want or deserve. We get what we’re willing to put up with.
We expected Jillian to do everything her brother had done. We expected teachers to teach her up to her capabilities. In turn, we expected Jillian to honor our expectations for her. She always did. My mother once said she thought Jillian would come the closest of any of her five grandchildren to reaching her potential. So far, so good.
Confession: I almost cried once Saturday, when Jillian and Ryan settled into the backseat of the limo that would take them to their hotel. t was the finality of it. Jillian, beaming through the window, her hair still perfect, her smile equally so. It was her leaving Dad, again.
I almost cried then, but I didn’t. Kerry and I had prepared for the moment. When it came, all the emotion went to gratitude and pride.
In that moment, I felt the same as I had some 15 years ago, when she announced that she was “a big girl now” and would no longer require my presence at the school bus stop. I felt the same two years ago, when she moved to her apartment just across the street from the metro bus stop, and thus would no ,longer be needing the DadUber every morning, to get to school.
Moving on is sad and glorious.
Expect. Don’t accept.
Thanks for reading.