This week is one of the most bitter-sweet times of my life. Thursday we will move our son, Daniel to Champaign, Illinois to attend the University of Illinois. I've dreaded this time for the past year. The last week I've watched him so close and I see a man before me, excited as he prepares to launch out on his own. Still at times, I see that little boy running across the room ready to jump into his daddy's arms. Both us know that life is about to change forever. It is a good thing, but it is breaking my heart.
My son and I have always enjoyed a very special relationship. As I have sat and watched him these past few days I have recalled the times I rocked him to sleep, singing the words, "Daniel Zachary, best thing that ever happened to me." His birth marked a defining moment in my life. In so many ways, I grew up that day, at the age of 31. I remember walking down the hallway in the hospital in Cleveland, Tennessee holding him when he was barely 10 minutes old, so proud my heart was ready to leap out of my chest, yet so overwhelmed at the thought that I was now responsible for the care of this new life. I vowed to the Lord to do my best to bring him up in the fear of the Lord. I didn't tell anyone, but I was afraid at that moment.My wife and I have done our best to do that. We've watched him develop into a young man that absolutely amazes us with the person that he has become.
When Daniel was little, we had a tradition of going to A&W every Spring on the first day they were open for a hot dog and root beer. We've always had those times where we sneak off for lunch together, or make a trip to Starbuck's, just father and son. Last year, when he was a Senior in High School, we did that more and more frequently as we realized that our time together was winding down.
And now that time has come, way too quickly, it seems, to open the door and let him fly. Libby and I are thrilled and excited for him and we know he will be successful... but selfishly, I don't want to let him go. I'm gonna miss my son far more than words can ever express. But love says, "let him fly." So, my son, I thank you for the joy and pride you have given to me. I thank you for the choices you have made which make me so very proud of you. And while I know this is not good-bye or an ending, but just a new chapter of your life, I want you to know son that daddy will miss you terribly. But Daniel, I have never been more proud of you than I am at this moment. Not only do I thank you for who you are, I thank you for who you have helped me to become. And you know son, our lunches together will continue. I will be over there as often as I can to continue one of the traditions that matters most to me in this life... time as father and son.
I love you Daniel.