by David Ellis
It wasn’t supposed to be this hard to say good-bye. Because I always knew the day would come. I always knew it wouldn’t last forever.
You’re ready, I told her, though I wasn’t sure I meant it. But when are you ever? When do you ever know that it’s time to let go?
I’d done everything I could for her. I’d reared her from infancy, challenged and coddled her, criticized her and obsessed over her.
I had hated her and loved her, all at the same time.
Ridiculed her and praised her.
She wasn’t my first and probably won’t be my last. Is she my best? That’s such a difficult thing to say, so subjective. I think the answer is yes but who knows?
The last week was the hardest. We both knew it was coming to an end. I took one last hard look at her. Was she ready for New York? Was she ready for the criticism and scrutiny?
They will try to change you, I told her. They will tell you everything that’s wrong with you. You’ll have to be strong.
It’s been three days now. And already things have changed between us.
Now I hate her. I am convinced she is worthless and incomplete. I am embarrassed by her but I vow that I will do better next time. Next time, yes. Next time will be the one.
When I see her next, she will look so grown up, dressed in her Sunday best, or as they say in the industry, the page proofs. She will look like an actual book for the first time. Everyone else will see the finished product. Only she and I will know the hours and hours of labor, imagination, debate, and obsession that went into her. Only she and I will recall all the molding and fine-tuning and spit-polishing at the end.
Some will compliment her. Some will scorn her. I will love her like only a parent can, observing her success or failure on pins and needles, quick to praise and even quicker to criticize.
And then moving on to my next child …