Daddy & Me
In the tenth grade, John Marshall high school held a Father-Daughter dance. After school, I climbed a tall ladder, hung streamers in the lunch room, cut out name tags in the shapes of father and daughter lions, and could hardly wait to dance with my Daddy. Mama taught me the steps and gently encouraged me to let Daddy lead.
She also bought me a new dress and did my hair. Daddy bought me a corsage and came home from work early so we could double date with my friend and her dad.
It was all such a big deal.
Then came our first dance. I was so nervous and wanted to do it perfectly, but I stepped on his toes a few times and a couple of times he stepped on mine. We tried a few more times finally choosing to sit on the sidelines.
Being wallflowers was a difficult relief.
While the music played, and other daughters danced with their dads, I wished I could have as well as the other girls did and worried that I’d embarrassed and disappointed my favorite (at that time) man in all the world. My friend and her dad sat with us after having about as much success as we did.
Pretty soon Daddy whispered in my ear, “Want to go get an ice cream sundae?”
Talk about the coolest Dad at the dance!
Daddy provided a way out, and that strawberry sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top was more delicious than any that had come before it.
Three years ago, after a seventeen-year remission, the Mantle Cell Lymphoma returned with a vengeance. Daddy fought it with the courage and determination of a warrior, and we learned a new Father-Daughter dance.
And once again, it was such a big deal.
This one involved letting him lead no matter what because he was still the dad and at sixty, I was still the kid. Once again, we stepped on each other’s toes as we journeyed through cancer’s deathly pace loving each other more in our sometimes clumsy and off-beat way.
This time, there were no ice cream sundaes, and we danced all the way to the end. Then suddenly, I was alone on the Father-Daughter dance floor we’d shared for so long.
Hours later, as I grieved what was and then in one last breath I wasn’t, I held on tight to God’s words . . .
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
I chose and continue to choose His comfort.
Please don’t misunderstand – I don’t say that easily because my grief (like many of yours) is deep and wide and worse than I imagined it would be. And like you, I find myself crying when I least expect it as the sorrow stabs my insides and literally takes my breath away.
Until I got here, I had no idea.
But in the ache and loss, I am also greatly comforted by God the Father whose perfect love, grace, mercy, and comfort are eternal.
And that’s the biggest deal of all.
As I weep, I thank God for Clarence Pater – the man He chose as my earthly Daddy and who instead of feeling ashamed of me at that long ago dance, bought me an ice cream sundae and smiled at me across the table as if that moment was the whole point of our evening.
And that was a big beautiful deal!
Until Next Time,