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We are attending graduation this weekend at Boston University to honor our Kalyn as she receives her Master’s degree.  It seems we moved her there only a moment ago, but it has almost been two years….swiftly the time goes by.  My post today is from the day we moved her into her apartment in Boston…another moment when time dissolved into yesterday.

Of Boxes and a Bicycle

It happened when I turned from my task, one arm wrapped around the box labeled, ‘kitchen stuff’, the other supporting it from underneath, betting whether the contents would stay inside when held shut with only a stripe of clear tape.

Everything she owned was piled into that trailer:  the cozy blue chair handed down by grandparents; the thrift store desk and chest of drawers whose curvy tops we sanded and painted together in the garage before she set out for her new life as a college graduate;  the oversized red suitcase now stuffed with out of season clothes, used  for her travels home for college breaks; boxes full of kitchen gadgets and bathroom towels; clothing and books and bed linens; all the packed items were chosen as the most essential,  culled down from the ones not so important which were donated to a local charity, those which didn’t fit into the meager 5 by 8 space allotted in the trailer.  These personal belongings were all the tangible evidence remaining of her few years spent in New Orleans, and would be all that joined her in her new life in Boston.

Kalyn was finished packing and stacking and rearranging that trailer before we arrived.  The only item left, but not to be left behind, was her bicycle.  It would not fit into the trailer, but must make the trip because she would not take her car to Boston, and would depend upon it for local transportation in her new urban neighborhood.   Steve, never without basic tools on hand, removed the metal handlebar basket, then the twin baskets straddling the back wheel.  The handlebars  came off next, then the back wheel, then the pedals were removed too, so that each item could be slipped into this small space, or pushed between that one, each part fitted into the packed belongings according to its size and shape like an odd puzzle.  Finally, the frame of the bicycle teetered on the back ledge, clinging just inside the trailer so that the doors would shut, but only barely.  The baskets fit nowhere in the trailer and with a sigh, Kalyn resigned herself to leave them behind.  I would not relent though, and while she and I discussed how they might have to ride atop a lap in the car across the country, Steve found a perch for them on the trailer hitch, and soon the baskets were bungee-cord-strapped in place, ready for transport.

Three days later in Boston, while we gingerly pulled items from the trailer to carry them into her new apartment, Steve worked in the driveway to put that bicycle back together, piece by piece with the tender care and sure hands of a lifelong dad, practiced at assembly.   When all the parts were back in their proper places, he called to Kalyn, “Hey, come sit on this so that I can adjust the seat to the right height”, he instructed.  Kalyn climbed onto the restored bicycle and steered it onto the cracked, uneven sidewalk.

And that was the precise moment I turned around, holding the box, glancing up to see my daughter on her bicycle.  She was facing away from me, now riding toward the neighboring house, trying out the seat.  My eyes saw the confident, grinning 26 year old she had become.  But my soul saw the five year old girl, recognized instantly from years ago, extracted from memory.   My breath caught, my legs went weak, my heart clenched in bittersweet remembrance between then and now, love welling over like my salty tears.  This one moment, now etched in my soul, is entwined with all those that went before it, tallied up like points…the joyous ones, fearful ones, regretful ones, ordinary ones.

Girl-woman child of mine, how you have changed me…. how was I even me before you?

A silent prayer sent to the heavens in that moment….May God smile his grace upon you all your days, as God has upon me while knowing you.

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