President Barack Obama wipes away tears during his farewell address. He thanks his daughters Malia and Sasha for growing up beautiful, intelligent, and kind.
By Cheriss May/NurPhoto/
Who among us is strong? Really, truly strong? Who among us can look ahead with unwavering steely purpose as one moment after another approaches and recedes into view, like a series of imposing evergreens along a highway? Who has not once slumped over the wheel—sure, the metaphorical one—and let out a great sob as yet another life-defining event has come and gone? Time’s creep is incessant. Surely you’ve heard that by now. A tear or two is just one of our defenses.
It’s nature’s coping mechanism. The old sodium drip at the ducts. Why? Because former president Barack Obama cried after he dropped his daughter Malia off at Harvard for her first year of college at the end of August. His essential humanity is our essential humanity, now more than ever.
“For those of us who have daughters, it just happens fast,” he said. Obama was speaking at the Beau Biden Foundation‘s golf and tennis invitational at Delaware’s Wilmington Country Club. The local radio station, WDEL, posted a video of the former president’s Sunday appearance in support of the foundation, which former vice president Joe Biden and his wife Jill started, and named after their son, who died of brain cancer in 2015.
Dropping off his eldest with all her toiletries and bedding, going out tops and books was “a little bit like open-heart surgery,” he said. “I was proud that I did not cry in front of her. But on the way back, the Secret Service was off, looking straight ahead, pretending they weren’t hearing me as I sniffled and blew my nose. It was rough.”
No word though on how Malia feels hearing about it now, like this. What would the 19-year-old have done, knowing that dad was having a moment? Would she have offered a genial pat on the shoulder, and said, “I know this is hard. It’s hard for me, too. But it’s also exciting. Think of all the great things I’m about to do?” Seems like something the daughter of Barack and Michelle would say.
Maybe it’s better that his ever-trusty Secret Service detail was the only witness to Obama’s emotional moment, which has now passed him by, just like these sorts of moments will pass all of us by. May we all be so lucky to mark their transience with a little dignity while stone-faced suits look away.
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