Looking back at the other night, it seems so long ago. Not because it was nearly four months in the past but because of how much I have changed since then. Maybe it’s still fresh in my mind because of how many times I played it back in my head, only to return to it over and over again.
I don’t know exactly what it was that I was making but it was something wrapped in a tortilla. There was melted cheese involved and I had gotten some of it on my finger. I was standing at the counter to the right of the kitchen sink when I turned to wrap it up and my daughter walked into the room to stand behind me.
I sensed her standing there, like when you can feel eyes on the back of your neck. But you're too involved in what you are doing and so you don't want to turn around. Once I had finished, I shoved a massive bite into my mouth and turned to see her staring at me. My Daughter was standing there in a white dress and wearing my wife's wedding veil.
She was beautiful. All done up with her makeup on, her hair curled, looking confident and sure. She had the mixture of a look of both askance and wonder written on her face along with a knowing grin. Her look was both questioning if it was alright and at the same time the making of a statement. A statement that said “Dad, I’m growing up and what are you going to do about it?” My daughter looked at me for approval wanting to know if I agreed that she was turning into a woman, if she had my permission.
My tongue constricted in my throat causing a painful ache. My lungs didn’t know what to do and I soon found that I wasn’t getting enough air. It felt like I was hyper ventilating. I had trouble swallowing the food that was already in my mouth. All I could do was wail.
She looked so pretty. So accomplished and sincere. I began to sob. My vision blurred when I looked down at the botched attempt at dinner. I was still holding onto it. It sat there dumbly in my hand. The warmth from the meal that was no longer reassuring. Not knowing what to do, I threw it. I threw the tortilla, burrito, quesadilla or whatever it was at the garbage and it pulled up short hitting the floor in a spray of meat, cheese and tears.
She has always kidded me about getting married and having a family of her own but until that night I was disconnected from reality. Cut off, thinking that my baby, my little girl would still be right there looking up at me with the eyes of someone of whom she had once adored. She has never adored me like this openly but I know she does. Every father knows when a child loves them even if the words don’t come easy. All I could feel at the time was loss. This child, this “Daddy's little girl” was being torn away from me and I couldn't do anything about it.
I couldn’t face her. Embarrassed by my sobs, embarrassed by my weaknesses that she could so suddenly catch me off guard and rip out my heart. I didn’t know what to do so I made my way into the bedroom. Feeling an urge to puke and an inexplicable desire to capture my feelings in word, I wrote down my heart in the form of a poem. I’ve never been much of a romantic. I mean I've fooled around with the written word and expressed my feelings any number of times on paper before but this time was different.
This time was filled with anguish and all of the raw emotion I could muster to let the whole world know just how much pain I had endured. I hate that poem and I hate that day. But in a strange way I love that poem because it reminds me of just how much she means to me.
That day left a scar on my heart. A beautiful scar that shows a lifetime of love and worry. A lifetime of owies and laughter of growth and acceptance. My daughter will always be my little girl. And I will always see her as a screaming toddler wanting to be held and wanting attention. Wanting food, wanting things to go her way and not giving up until they do. No matter how old she is or where she is in the world, she will take a huge part of me along with her. So am I cut off from what I used to hold onto so dearly? Yeah, I'm cut off from what our relationship used to be but she will take a piece of my heart with her wherever she goes. So in a strange way, I am also with her.
I can accept it now. I might not like it very much but I accept it. What I have learned throughout the years is that acceptance is something I struggle with. Acceptance means that I've lost control over something in my life that I can’t change. That is what was so hard in the beginning, not wanting to change. But like acceptance, sometimes change is good. Change gives us an opportunity to grow as a person and for her it's the change of a lifetime. I’d break myself in two if it would make her happy. Any loving parent would. My only hope is that someday she will feel the same way with a child of her own.
The Color White
Cursed to me is the color white. Innocence and purity is what it represents, unblemished in its beauty. But the price paid to wear its splendor is much too high. Our lord gave his life to clothe us in white, to blot out our sins, paid by his blood. Until today, I have never fully appreciated just how high of a price he had paid.
It wasn’t until I saw my daughter, of my own flesh and blood wearing it. That is when I saw how horribly expensive the color is.
Gone is my screaming angel to bless another man with her radiant smile. Gone is the light I have had to myself, to shine for another man. The laughter and the warmth that I have grown so accustomed to, to be given to someone else who can fulfill her needs.
I know it is selfish and I know to lash out would only smother her flame. But how do you let go of someone you truly love? To relinquish your hold and watch as they stand and shine even brighter than before for someone else?
Sacred and cursed is the color I tell you, it is the taker of lives and the giver of new beginnings.