It was late afternoon on the 31st of December, last week. Like most of the years I’ve been given, I try to squeeze every last ounce of the time allotted to me. I was in my office pushing hard up against the end of the year and wringing every last drop of production out of it that I could muster.
I do, however, have a kryptonite that can pull me away from a task quicker than you can say “daddy’s girl”.
For more years than our youngest can remember she’s been going with me to Barnes and Noble. Specifically the one at a place called Kierland Commons that isn’t too far from our house. I dragged her with me when she was young, of course it didn’t take much coercing since she loves all things books like her dad. Now that she’s older she drags me… not that it takes too much in the way of convincing the book hound in me.
That last day of the year was significant for more than just being the 365th of the year, it was a day of dread for my youngest. It was the beginning of more change, and one in particular that she wasn’t remotely looking forward to. Although she’d been reminding me about the significance of that day for some time, I’d forgotten about in my haste of life and work.
“You wanna go to Barnes and Noble with me?” she asked.
I looked up and over the top of my readers, “Uhhh, right now?” I asked.
She looked at me with her stunning brown eyes that landed her the nickname of “Button eyes” when she was little, “Yeah, dad… our Barnes and Noble is closing today, remember?”
I nodded, “That’s right. Yeah, let’s go,” I said with a new sense of priorities and with the melting heart of a daddy.
While my daughter is young, she’s old enough to know when something special is ending, like another year in this life.
We talked about all the times we’d hung out our local bookstore and the times spent walking around the outdoor mall afterward as I drove us to the place she has driven herself regularly to do homework. I’d drink coffee on our walks, she’d swig the sweetened tea in the warm months and hot chocolate in the cold ones.
The grand bookstore was somber. The employees, some of which my daughter knows personally, wore rectangle faces with lips hanging lower at the outside edges. The fifty percent off shelves looked like the Grinch had just made a haul, pre-heart growing that is…
An unprofessional voice came across the PA system, “Good afternoon Barnes and Noble shoppers. Please wrap up your selections and make your way to the checkout station… This Barnes and Noble will be closing in twenty minutes… forever…
“Awwwwe,” my daughter said with a melancholy smile.
“Everything changes, huh, babe?” I said as I thumbed through the $4.99 CD racks.
We got our last drink at the Starbucks inside the vanishing Barnes and Noble, as much for old times sake as anything else…
Every five minutes a new voice would come on the speaker system and thank us for the support over the last twelve years and remind us that in a few precious minutes their store would be gone permanently … like one of the popular books they sold so often titled, “Gone With The Wind”.
You don’t have to look far or wait for a new year to get another life lesson. Things we cherish all change… Only God alone doesn’t…
The lesson from the closing bookstore that my youngest and I had spent so much time together in was easy for me; I was reminded that the best things in this life are measured within the heart and can’t be calculated by a number… or a building.
To be honest, is was never the bookstore… it was always the precious time with my daughter…
Sometimes it takes change and loss to remind us how much we already have. A good reminder to start the new year off with I think.