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Something strange happens when you go from a house bustling with energy and noise to a quiet one. It feels weird, as if something is wrong. Even the dogs are picking up on it because they have been extra mopey lately.

This past Thursday, we moved Gracie “G-Money” Carlon into her dorm at Sacred Heart University and I already miss her singing, the multiple non sequieters during our chats, and her sweet voice asking, “Can we watch TV tonight?”

Even at eighteen, she still likes to watch a show with her daddy. Over the years we’ve binged Teen Wolf (laughably terrible), enjoyed documentaries on her beloved Harry Styles and his bandmates (and I use that term loosely) in One Direction, and, our favorite, Stranger Things, which we re-watched this summer.

I hope Sacred Heart is prepared for the force of nature that is our Gracie. She’s sweet but determined. Headstrong, passionate, and empathetic. I know she’s going to do well there because she has a good head on her shoulders and is strong willed.

Talented artist that she is, Grace painted this picture many years ago and it is my favorite of hers. I bet she’s hoping I’m about to show the one she did of Harry Styles’ new album cover, but in actualtiy its one she drew of two ladybugs and a bumblebee near a flower. She put a G, P, and M next to each signifying her and her siblings. Not surprisingly, Grace represents herself as in the air as she is an adventerous one. Patrick, represented as the bee, is also airborne and, even as a baby was always on the go (more on him next week). Gracie’s insight into her sister is also spot on. The ladybug representing Maggie is firmly on the flower—Maggs always likes to play things close to the vest and is content being home. I can’t say what her intentions were in painting this, but I do know that there is insight in it.

I have many special memories of my Gracie girl, but one that I really treasure is when I took her, her brother Patrick, and their friend Sophie to see Taylor Swift a few summers ago. The tickets were a Christmas gift and I had to join the Taylor Swift fan club to get them. Well, I could only get nosebleed seats and whenever she’d ask me where we were sitting I’d tell her to look at a picture of Met Life Stadium and to find the words Met Life at the top of the bowl and that we were sitting on top of the M. It wasn’t too far from the truth.

On the day of the show, though, I went onto Stub Hub and found that a number of reasonably priced floor seats had opened up. I gobbled up 4 and sold my others, but didn’t tell anyone. So when we walked into the stadium and started following the signs for field seating Grace kept saying, “Dad, we are going the wrong way.” After a few attempts at correcting my direction, I turned to her and said, “We aren’t going the wrong way. I have a surprise for you.” She immediately started to cry because she was so overcome with emotion.

But wait, it gets better.

At one point during the show, Taylor herself walks between two stages and passes right in back of us. We all got to touch her hand. I was father of the year for about one hundred and twenty six minutes. Maybe a tad longer.

I can’t wait until Thanksgiving when everyone is under the same roof and we are once again surrounded by the joyful noise our family makes. Until then, here’s to you Gracie girl. Remember that you are loved wherever you go. I know you are excited to decorate your room, go through the sorority rush process, and make a million new friends, but please don’t forget to go to class, study, and hit the books. Oh, and like I told your sister when we dropped her off at UConn, don’t do anything stupid.




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