Yesterday was a strange day filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. I was in a great mood, laughing and feeling a few moments of pure inner joy and cheerfulness. Mom, Michael, Kristie, Jenny and I had just had lunch together. It wasn’t a planned lunch. As a matter of fact, the “planning” happened over a period of about five minutes. Mom just happened to be nearby at Kohl’s. I’ll give you a moment to absorb that… as I know you’re shocked that Mom was out shopping. Haha. As everyone joked, told stories, and laughed, I thought to myself: I love my family so much. We’re mostly last-minute planners yet it turned out to be such a fun gathering.
I was in a productive meeting at work and once it ended, I walked back to my desk expecting to carry on with my day. It’s incredible how just one email from my brother could change my entire day from that point forward. Michael knows Jenny and I well enough that we’d rather read something and absorb it, than endure a devastating phone call. At first I thought to myself, “Did I read this correctly? Let me go back and read it again.” My heart sank. Did I just read that my dad has cancer? It felt like the air had just been sucked from my lungs. I called Jenny and I could tell she too had been crying. We met outside in our work parking lot, and we shared a sentimental moment together. We talked, vented, hugged – and then we realized…. We are very ugly criers. We decided to go home for the day to pull ourselves together.
I suddenly had a flashback to when I was 10 years old. I had always been the little leader in the house, particularly in my relationship with Michael. I remember having a private conversation with Michael, asking him how he felt about us calling you “Dad.” Michael was only six years old at the time yet he had been so confident in his decision. He said, “I’m good with it.” It was as if Michael had been waiting for me to tell him it was okay. I felt very nervous about sharing my feelings with you. How exactly does a 10-year-old kid tell her step-father this? I didn’t talk to Mom about it because I wanted to be brave on my own. Michael and I walked out to the garage where you were working on one of your vehicles and I remember my sentence like it were yesterday, “Me and Michael were talking, and we’d like to start calling you dad if you’re okay with that.” Then, we just stood there… tick-tock…tick-tock… The uncomfortable, silent pause felt like an eternity but I think you were just gathering your composure. You said you’d be honored and that it meant the world to you.
Remember the day of my wedding? All of the guests were inside the church waiting for me to walk down the aisle. The double doors were closed. No one stood behind those doors other then you, me, and Josh. Josh opened the doors and then there was a 5-second pause before the wedding march began. This would be the first (and only) time you’d ever walk me down the aisle. You looked at me and said, “Are you ready?” I gave you a huge smile and said, “Yep. I’m ready!” You looked so confident and proud as you said, “Okay, Let’s go.” Look at Jesus in the background. It’s almost as if he was winking at me saying, “Go ahead, girl! Get on down that aisle!” To my surprise, my friend Brenda caught our special moment on film.
I’d love to share more amazing stories like the last few paragraphs, but let’s be realistic. I was a bratty teenager with little regard for anyone but myself. So there was a gap of time where things weren’t perfect. Thank God I found my way back to the person I once was before life’s circumstances took away most of my happiness.
Daughters use that quote “My Dad is my hero” all the time but I actually lived through that phrase. I wouldn’t be alive today if not for you. Typically you’d only see a father screaming his daughter’s name then aggressively removing her abuser’s hands off of her in a movie. But that was me, and you were my hero. You’re still my hero!
I wrote you this letter for a few reasons: (1) I want you to know that we love you, (2) I wanted to share my two most favorite memories with you to make you smile, and (3) I want you to know that you’re not alone in whatever journey you’re facing. We’re all here for you. Your faith and assurance in God is an inspiration to all of us; however, don’t expect your family to sit back and be nonchalant either. LOL. Not happening.
I love you.
PS – Please, anyone who reads this letter, I would ask that you say a prayer for our dad and our family. Our family strongly believes in the power of prayer, and we know that God is the #1 Physician. Thank you.