From Conception to Graduation...Kami Rose.

"It goes by fast." they said.
"It will be here before you know it." they said.
"Don't wish today away."they said.
"It won't be long and they'll be gone."

During the early years you get to thinking that life with never move at anything but a tortoise pace. There are days that never seem like they're going to end.  Low grade fevers. Ruputured Ear Drums.  Emergency room visits.  Waking throughout the night to change dirty diapers, bottle feed, and rock the little one back to sleep.  Responding to odd noises on the bedroom monitor.  Endless changing of onesies because of diarrhea exploding up their back, spit up covering their front and your shoulder, and Gerber baby food splattered on their bib and sometimes their lap when they decided to cough right after you packed a spoonful in their mouth. (oh, how I loved that!)

Our Kami Rose graduated yesterday.  18 years flew by at a breakneck speed.  Slow one moment, a speeding bullet the next.  It catches you off guard.  You can even know it's happening and still be surprised by the passing of time.  I sat there as her class of two hundred and something students lined the track around the football field and the "Pomp and Circumstance" song filled the atmosphere.  If there was time I felt a lump in my throat, it was during that song as I remembered my own graduation while watching Kami wave at us with her glowing spirit and bounced along like she was walking on clouds.  Her joy was palpable.  She was lapping up the limelight and there is nothing that makes her come alive like a crowd.  She loves lots of people coming together to celebrate life.  Out of all my kids, she's the most extroverted...a socialite to the max.

So it didn't surprise me a bit that after her name was called over the PA--"Kamryn Rose Holdridge"--and she grabbed her diploma, she snagged one of her friends that was right in front of her and she spun in circles throwing her "hands in the air like she really didn't care".  Her smile was infectious and her freedom contagious.  It always has been.

I told her last night that she is one of the most self-confident souls I know.  Despite her Mobieus Syndrome that has left her with partial paralysis in her face and anomolies with her hands, she is nothing if she's not filled with optimism.  After graduation we went out to eat and on the way out of the restaurant she wrapped her arm around me and said, "Dad, I'm looking forward to experiencing new things and exploring life."  She's got an adventurous spirit.

But her next statement was as honest as her first: "It only gets harder from here, though."  I told her that, in part, what she was saying was true.  I shared that Jr. and Sr. High are pretty difficult years and that she weathered them fairly well, with occasional casualites.  There's nothing casual about casualties.  The ache of rejection, disappointment, criticism, loneliness...these things led to several nights of tears.  The comparative weightlessness of adolescence is hit head on with the gravity of depravity on certain days...a casual day can turn into a casualty before you have time to brace for it.  But I can tell you that Kami has done a great job navigating the nonsense that take a fair share of students out prematurely.  High School has been relatively peaceful and enjoyable for her.  Not so much the studies, but the social life.  She has done more than survived, she has thrived.

But she's right, life gets harder in some ways from here.  Less dependency, more independency.  More responsibility, less safety nets.  More demand, less free time.  More debt, less disposable income.  More studying, less sleep.  You're life certainly gets pressurized.

But she's wrong, too.  Life, in some ways, gets more pleasant and fulfilling.  She's heading to a Christian college and I think she will relish her relationships with her professors and the atmosphere of kingdom purpose.  Oh, not everything will be goosebumps, gumdrops and giggles, but compared to the current of her prior education experience, I think she will find great joy and peace in a approaching her studies with a Biblical Worldview.  She is looking forward to chapel a few times a week and making some good friendships that share her core values.  She is looking forward to studying things that interest her and pouring herself into a field of interest that has been intriguing to her for a good bit of her life--nursing.  

She is a joy to me.  A joy to watch and listen to.  It's a joy to be around her joy.  Certainly the things that bring her the most joy are friends and dancing.  I hope that never changes.

So, it has gone by fast.  But it's been 18 years filled with so many amazing memories and moments.  I don't look back with a mind racked with regret.  I knew this day would come, so I tried to make the most the B.C. before graduation.  I started Daddy Daughter dates when she could sit up straight and share a milkshake at McDonalds.  We've probably gone out on 100's of dates over the years.  For the better part of her 18 years, I have laid in bed with her and her sisters, telling them stories and snuggling with them.  Every now and again, we would pray together, and many nights after they drifted off to sleep, I would come into their rooms and put my hand on their head praying for their hearts and minds and futures and friendships.  So many neat vacations and so many unforgettable experiences.  

But there will be more to come.  I look fondly upon the past, but I look expectantly towards the future.  This girl is going places and I pray that God will guard her and guide her every single day of her life.  I pray that he will pour fuel on the fire of her optimism and confidence.  I pray that she will turn her eyes from herself and put them on the world that God is staring at, joining him in his attitude and action to make this world a better place through his love.  

What a weekend it's been!  What a joy my Kamryn Rose has been to my heart.  I will miss her fiercely when she leaves in a couple months, but I'm excited to see her spread her wings and fly.  

Yes, the time went fast, but we seized a good bit of it along the way.

Love you, Kami Rose.


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