Author: Pia Pedersen

Disclaimers are in force.



She smiles softly at me when I enter the room, and I return
it, as always, because I can't help it. Her eyes sparkle
like ... I don't quite how to express it, but I know it's
because of me, and that's enough. I don't need anymore than
that, and I definitely don't want to consider that another
man might look into those eyes and fall in love the way I
did when I first saw her.

It seems so long ago, and it seems like yesterday. I wish I
could stop time and hold on to this moment, but I can't,
and it slips through my fingers, out of my grasp.

"You look beautiful," I manage. She acknowledges the
compliment silently, and I am once again struck by how
graceful she is.

"You don't look so bad yourself," she teases, and I wonder
if she will always hold this immense power over me? The
answer is simple, and as I extend my arm to her, and her
hand settles briefly there, I know she knows it too. "I
will come back," she says now, an unspoken prayer in her
eyes, asking me to not make this harder than it has to be.
"I will," she repeats, when I say nothing. Finally I find
the strength to nod. It isn't what she wanted, but she
accepts that it is all I can give right now.

No one ever told me it would be this hard, no one ever
prepared me for this moment, and if someone had, I doubt
that I would have believed it.

"They're waiting," I say, having found my voice again, "we
should go."

"I'm not ready yet," the hushed words reveal the
vulnerability she so rarely lets me see now, and I open up
my arms in a silent invitation. I feel her relax in my
embrace for a moment before stepping back again, and when I
reach up to dry her tears away, she smiles shyly.

I let my hand fall.

"Old habits die hard," I hear myself mumble, explaining.
She laughs a little, and it means everything to me. I swear
it is one of my favorite sounds. "I love you," I say,
looking at her.

I don't know if I've said it often enough, but I hope I
have succeeded in showing her. A wave of uncertainty washes
over me, the kind I didn't know of before she came into my
life; the kind that has kept me up at night. I hope she
will always remember that I love her.

Why does it feel so final, this goodbye that none of us
seem to want to say?

She will come back, and even if she doesn't ... I will not
lose her.

So why does it feel that why?

The door slides open as she walks through it, and I watch
her as she says her goodbyes. I'm not the only one who will
miss her.

Her dark eyes smile at me as she leans into me again,
dropping a light kiss on my cheek. I hold her a little
longer, and then I let go.

I let her go.

For a moment everything is silent around me as I see her
walk away.

~ I love you too, Dad. ~

I feel a smile break out on my face, and then I feel
Deanna's hand close around mine. Deanna. I turn and look
into her eyes, shimmering with unshed tears.

I'm not the only who has had to say goodbye.

"That's the hardest thing I've ever had to do," I whisper,
and she smiles.

"She's only going to the Academy, Will," she says, "I hate
to think how you'll react when she gets married!"