As I write this, my daughter is curling up with the cat for one of her last nights in the bed she has slept in since age 5. This weekend, she’s leaving the house she grew up in and moving into an apartment with a friend to start the next phase of her life.
I’m happy for her — she has planned well, saved her money and is enjoying college as an English literature and history major. But my heart breaks, knowing that just as with my son, so many happy rituals are now coming to a close.
“Nite, nite — love, love!” I called out to her last night as the cat hopped onto her bed and Lily turned out her light. It’s what I have said to her every night since she was born on a chilly New Year’s Eve, 19 years ago.
My daughter is sleeping these last few nights in a room full of boxes holding her favorite Jane Austen novels, her cello sheet music, her collection of miniature vases and prom photos, her ballet slippers and leotards, her hair ties, lip gloss and platform shoes. The low oak dresser that once doubled as her changing table will now hold plants and a small television in her new apartment, and she’ll soon be shopping at Ikea for a new sofa, throw pillows and bed.
I have no plans to remove the “Les Miserables” barricade drawing and “Lily’s Room” sign that she taped on her bedroom door in elementary school. At least, not yet. No matter what remodeling we end up doing down the line, it will always be “Lily’s Room.”
My daughter laughs and tells me to “stop being weird,” because she is moving only one neighborhood over, about five minutes away. She has promised to come by once or twice a week, and she will continue to be my date at operas, musicals and ballets.
Still, I am dreading the emptiness.
I’ll miss the aroma of her homemade brownies, the sound of her practicing the piano late in the afternoon, the sight of her sprawled on the kitchen floor every morning, her silky long hair flowing down as she pets the cat before heading off to her college classes.
On Sundays, she will now try to join us for dinner, just as her brother does. There will be laughter and snarky comments, deep sighs and spirited arguments about world and national affairs. Then she’ll quickly hug me goodbye and sail out the door, leaving behind the sweet scent of her Lily of the Valley perfume and a silence that I have not known in more than two decades.
“Nite, nite — love, love.”
Oh, how I’ll miss her. ❤️