Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A Dance with my Daughter
Life is measured in events. Albeit, these events are rare compared with our day to day activities. But these are what we remember, mark and measure our life. These events can be seen as islands on the horizon in the ocean of time on which we spend most of our days. We float along daily in the glistening ripples and waves of daily activity, the forward movement almost imperceptible as we sleep, eat breakfast, answer emails discuss the calendar and talk and listen and do 95% of what our lives really are. These moments are critical, but seem mundane. However, the big events are both behind us and ahead, a reminder of what we have accomplished or hope to do. The islands in our ocean fade into past memory and appear anew on our horizons: Birth, death, prom night, 1st football game, a major illness, a family vacation, a promotion, new job, new house. As a parent, they are an inevitability. Someday, your children grow up and leave you. You prepare them for this their entire life, but it is always bittersweet.
As a father, you hope and pray that your daughter falls in love with a good man, a man better that you are, one who will respect and care for her, but as she dates, you give up hope. Then one day, she comes home with a sparkle in her eye. This is different. This young man is not like the rest. You meet him and he is was she needs and more. Suddenly, on the horizon, a distant peak of an island becomes visible for the very first time and you feel the currents pushing you toward that inevitable port. However, almost simultaneously, storm clouds begin to gather obscuring the view and the way.
On June 13, 2008 Corey proposed to Rebecca. Corey included me in his plan to surprise her and it worked beautifully. She accepted and the date was set for October 25th. Ironically, that same morning, I finally found out my diagnosis of what had kept me ill for two years. I had restrictive cardiomyopathy. A week later it was determined that this might be due to Amyloidosis. Further investigation was disheartening as the prognosis was bad and the course of action unpredictable. The storm clouds descended and the waves begin to carry us off course. With two of our children getting married in the near future, it was difficult to know what to do. Samuel and Michelle's wedding was only 2 months away, while Corey and Rebecca's was in four months. With a open-ended work-up in Rochester MN, inpatient status in Santa Clara and waiting for the elusive new heart, could we make a course correction in time to share these cherished events. To Sam I said, "I'll do my best to be there." It was not to be. But to Rebecca I promised, "I will dance with you at your wedding." I meant to do everything in my power to keep that promise.
We arrived at the appointed date last Saturday. The beauty of the morning was only exceeded by the beauty of Rebecca. Her smile and unabashed joy kept us all afloat. The wedding was a dream come true. We all arrived, family and friends at the reception where she floated around the room in her white dress with such grace and poise. Then the moment came. I danced with my daughter.
I took her in my arms, as I have done for 20 years, and carried her around the floor. She told me not to cry, but the emotion was overwhelming. We reminisced how she used to stand on my feet when she was two as we danced around the family room. She loves to dance. I told her how much I loved her. I always will. But now begins her time to dance with another. And I am so happy that she has Corey. A fathers' greatest desire, to give his daughter to a man worthy of her love who will care for her with all of the loving attention of her Dad.
The dance with my daughter was done, the event now fades into past memories, the promise was kept. As I look back, this island paradise will remain in view for a very long time. The ocean seems a little bit more calm today and my vision seems to extend a few more miles than usual.
Congratulations to Rebecca and Corey