By Jessica Galán

A steady week of rain and clouds has evaporated—so my daughter and I take to the hare-lip of a beach which offers us cool reprieve, where the only hard choice is deciding which of twenty-six flavors of soft-serve to taste.

Bianca and I collapse onto the sand and awaken our palates to White Chocolate and Pistachio delight. She’s a week shy of beginning a paid internship in the heart of New York City, and I’m fraught with silly ‘what-ifs for her safety.

Seagulls glide across the surf as we walk over shells which clink and clatter under our feet.

Just a few weeks ago, my raven-haired beauty fluttered across the Rhode Island Convention Center stage to grab hold of a college degree she’s invested countless of hours into. I’m sure I clapped loudest as my unrelenting grin almost froze my cheekbones in place. Yeah, I was that proud.

“I’m considering San Francisco, Mom. My friends are landing jobs there.”

She lifts her face to the sun not realizing her words have unnerved me. Why does she want to go so far away?

“There’s earthquakes in California,” I tell her.

“But God’s there too, Mom.”

I don’t like that she’s right.

Her newfound dreams and plans reach higher than unruly summer weeds.

“You can’t keep me in an incubator. I’m not a newly-hatched egg.” She’s all of five feet and ninety-eight pounds. She’s too determined to understand she’s still my little bird.

We train in to New York City the next evening. Bryant Park teems with folk who’ve flocked together to shimmy and shake to mambo, disco, and old-time swing. We become vibrant-colored spinning tops, our feet, riding on the rhythms of percussion and trumpet horns.

The sun casts the street grid golden, framing my daughter’s face like a holy epiphany. In an instant, God convinces me—I see her with newfound eyes.

She’s a 22-year-old woman longing to realize dreams of her own.

The band performs its final set, and we collapse our weary bones into plastic lounge chairs. Underneath the canopy of trees fireflies perform a luminescent dance of their own.

We take in the night, knowing it’ll be one of our brightest memories.

Early the next morning, I make the half-mile trek to Gulf Beach on my own. I watch as a lone, sinewy fisherman baits his pole with tackle.

I stride the ledge where sand meets surf to surrender my daughter’s future and protection to God. Because providence alone will determine her path. This young lady is a beautiful bird, eager for flight.

I know if I don’t anchor deeply into the heart of God, her soon-to-be empty bedroom will feel like a hole to the heart.

What if the nudge of loneliness kneading my soul is an opportune moment of sorts? A chance to re-discover a new path, even as I walk through the beginnings of mid-life?

And what if greater glories exist for me just the same?

So I’ll relish the days of summer with my daughter now…

because our joy-filled moments will evaporate faster than saltwater on skin.

[This post originally appeared on Jessica’s blog.]

Jessica spends her days teaching history and her-story to amazing high school students from diverse backgrounds in Fairfield County, Connecticut. She’s wife to a super-creative man and the proud mother of three resilient young women. Connect with her on her blog Recast Today, as well as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.