My daughter squeezed my hand tight. Did she know something that I didn’t feel yet?  Although our fingers are interlaced and clasped together, my eyes are not fixated on her, but I am unable to remember, months later, what has captured my attention.

Sometimes we learn in retrospect. This flicker of time happened on June 24, 2012, on the morning of my sister’s wedding. Studying the picture now I realize that my little girl’s eyes dart upward. Her gaze fixates on me, her mother. Her face exhibits a silence and a sadness that usually doesn’t appear in my many pictures of her.

The delicacy of her features automatically put a smile on my face. A perfect flower girl, her bun in her hair placed in the middle of her head, while her necklace rests in between the intricate design of her outfit. Glimpses of pink on her nails match her pink bindi on her head. But what brings me to tears is her expression. It is the first time I’ve experienced her sorrow in high-definition.

I believe in this moment she knows about life’s most natural betrayal. Letting go. And how everyday we are immersed in a series of endless goodbyes. We say goodbye to our spouses before they head to work, kiss our children as they skip to school, hit send on countless number of emails, say our nonchalant farewells before ending a phone call, and turn out the lights to our day before we go to sleep. On that day, at that moment, my daughter is learning about goodbyes. She realized she was letting go of her aunt, someone who she loves in the deepest part of her marrow.

There is something else. In between the gulf between my daughter and me, there is a picture of my father. Goodbye and letting go. That is what silence sometimes says.

Image by Greg Blomberg Photography