This was the first Christmas she didn’t believe in Santa Claus. I had to put food for the old man and his reindeer in front of the tree. She just shook her head because I tried to keep the story going. I shared the “Yes, Virginia, there’s a Santa Claus.” to keep the spirit of Christmas alive and not just make it about presents and Christmas trees.

She leaves the house now daily at 6.30 by herself, takes the tram, the train and finally the bus to her school. While there are still many moments we share, Winnetou and Sissie movies we watch, vacations we take – I can see a future where this will become the exception, not the current norm.

There’s sadness in this: Longing for the days when she always held my hand crossing the street, when she walked in the kitchen first thing in the morning, just hugging me for the longest time.

And there’s pride: How she’s turning into a fine, young lady. Independent, loving books and happy to take on a new world and life in Amsterdam. Much quicker than I expected.

There’s also recognition: The life we live is not ours – Her life, your life, my life.

While there’s sadness, pride and pain seeing children grow up, we would never want to stop the process. And, thankfully, we can’t. Just like we can’t stop our lives from changing as children take the necessary steps that, one happy/sad day they will leave their home to create their own elsewhere. We did the same one day and arrived where we are because progress and change can’t be stopped.

“The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.” – C.S. Lewis

No matter what I do, how good a father and husband I am, how much I love, help others, I still live on borrowed time. We all have borrowed lives.

There’s no extension, no money-back guarantee. No ownership, no lemon law, no trade-ins.

This life is all we have. Each moment of it – sadness, happiness, love, pain, the past, children, work, the future, the present.

Enjoy the journey and each moment. Make the best of your present. Very soon, all of it will be gone.

Until that day, be the best borrower you can be.