Watching my daughter race for the last time

My voice was shot. I had cheered on my youngest daughter Sabrina in her last state track event, the 800 meter. I whooped and hollered as she passed six people to get to her 8th place finish.

And now it was over. Drew and I walked her down to her team tent. It was a beautiful day for a track event. The sky was blindingly blue and clear. Youth athletes at the prime of their lives were warming up, soaking up the sun or moving to their next event.

But I only had eyes for my daughter. She exchanged words with a teammate and, happy and relaxed, obliged us with last photos.

If I were to close my eyes I could imagine every freckle on her face, from years of sports under the sun. As I hugged her, her petite frame felt strong. She has always been that way, undettered by physical hardship or longer-limbed competitors, a trait that has served her well. Even as a little girl, being told no only made her hungry and determined.

We were parting for the day. Her, to stay with her team to celebrate. Us, to our home, done with our kids’ high school sports forever.

“Mom,” she said, chuckling and pulling out of my longer-than-usual hug. “It’s not like you won’t see me again.”

I had no words. I merely blinked back tears and smiled at my beautiful strong girl, framed by a practice track and a blue, blue sky that seemed to have no limit, like her future.

I couldn’t speak even if I wanted to. My heart was full and my voice was shot.