Palo Alto, Ca. — Two days ago I was convinced that I would hold strong and hold back the tears when it was time to say goodbye to my daughter Celine who is finally a freshman at Stanford University.
I was convinced that I was not sending her away to school but bringing her to a new home which she seemed to embrace.
“I always thought this was the place for me,” Celine said. “But every minute I spend here I am even more convinced of that. I am so happy.”
I saw the way she embraced this campus. I saw the way she introduced herself to new people and how quickly they embraced her. I was not going to cry because I was sending her to a great place with great people who loved her. And she sent the love right back.
How can you be sad when you are doing the right thing?
We walked the campus with my wife Abs. We watched her meet new friends and we attended welcoming events which Celine seemed to love.
Celine is smart, witty, outgoing and is a great future leader. But in order for her to succeed, she needs to be embraced. I believed that Stanford gave her the biggest hug that it could. I thought that Abs and I were trespassing and hovering. She was fine. It was time for us to let go and let her begin her new adventure.
There would be no tears when we finally said so-long. Or so I thought. That’s what I told Celine and Abs.
But then we went to an event sponsored by black students and faculty. And a Stanford choir sang one of the most inspirational versions of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” I’ve ever heard and I began to tear up a bit. I knew they were reaching Celine and it made me sad and glad at the same time.
We decorated her dorm room along with Celine’s new roommate Claire who comes to us from California. I feel for Claire a bit because she must deal with Celine who is trying to save the world even though she is so young.
She wants to reach out to Muslim and Jewish kids and the Gay and transgender community.
After listening to a welcoming speech by the school president we walked back to her dorm room to say good-bye and pick up a few bags to bring home. I was fine until I saw Celine break out in tears. Then I felt sad.
When we got to the room I was overcome by sadness and I did not bawl like a baby but my eyes moistened. I still felt good about her new home and friends. But this is my girl. We’ve gone through so much from weekend soccer tournaments to her leaping into a puddle of mud and water at a pumpkin patch. I’ve been her advocate and father.
We tried to raise her to respect others and to appreciate life.
The tears came because I love my child and I am going to miss her. I am so proud of Celine and what she’s accomplished in life. But one of the professors said the freshmen are not here because of what they’ve done to this point in life. They are at Stanford because of what they will become.
Let’s hope the best is yet to come.