I have often been afforded the agonizing honor of sharing in the last hours of a person's life. I've written about these moments before, but my grief this morning is of a different nature.
Just an hour ago, my wife and I left behind our "daughter for a year" at the airport. I haven't sobbed so much since a dear friend died a few years back. My heart is crushed. Making her scrambled eggs one last time, carrying her luggage to the car, and driving her down the hill (as I did so many mornings on the way to school or one of the many activities she was involved in) carried such a sense of finality. She is ours no longer.
I remember the first week she was here I introduced her to someone as my "daughter for the year." She looked me in the eyes with her determined gaze and responded, "I will be your daughter forever."
No, I am not her father, and she has a wonderful man she calls Dad waiting to welcome her home. And no, she is not my blood daughter. I have one of those that I treasure beyond what any words can say. But as I sobbed my good-byes this morning--as I let go of her at the airport security line--my heart broke as I never thought it could.
Koba Sivsivadze, oo vas yest chudesnee dochka! (You have a wonderful daughter!) But it has been my honor to care for her for the past year. Thank you for trusting our family to watch over her. She will change her world in everything she does, as she has changed ours in this little town in Indiana.
And I hope you don't mind me saying, while understanding my lesser role, Gvantsa will also be my daughter, forever.