07/02/2012 05:28 pm ET | Updated Sep 01, 2012

Here's What Happens When Parents Blink


Step One: Take a close look at the little boy in the photo.

Step Two: Blink

Step Three: Well, you don't get a step three. But I do. You see, the boy in the picture is my oldest son Kevin. He's standing there -- holding up five fingers to proudly tell his dad that he is 5 -- and about to begin his first day of school. I not only remember that day, I remember the smell of the air. I remember the wind blowing through the leaves on the trees. I remember the feel of his skin and wetting his hair down from his bed head.

I remember noticing his shoelace -- a little too long -- and telling myself that I needed to retie it so he didn't trip.

I remember thinking what a long journey we had ahead of us.

Then I blinked.

And today that little boy just took his last college exam.

Truthfully, I'm not sure how to feel. Relieved? Amazed? I'm overwhelmed by the speed with which life moves. I'm so excited for his future. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm grappling with the realization that the young dad who took that photo is also older. 17 years older, to be exact. And it happened in a blink.

After my mom died when I was a child, I found a poem in her purse. To this day that poem, written by a man named Heartsill Wilson, contains some of the most powerful words I have ever read. My favorite being:

"...what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it."

Life sure does move fast. Since that photo was taken, I've had a little over 6,000 days that I exchanged for a "today."

A lot of those days have blurred together. I don't like that part. I wish they were all as crystal clear as that day a little boy in a yellow shirt stepped into the unknown.

But today, looking back, I cherish each day. Blurry ones and all. Even the ones I dreaded at the time. They all brought something of value. And they all held a lesson.

Just like the one I learned today.

In between the blinks, if you open your eyes, you'll find the awe.

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