Went to a wedding this past weekend. It was a beach wedding. Like something out of a Hollywood script. It was romantic. Happy. Beautiful. In fact, maybe you couldn’t even write it so wonderful. It was that perfect. Made me feel very grateful for the experience and memory these two people I care about were making with and for each other.
After the ceremony, the bridal party was introduced. And after the bridal party was introduced, there was a dance. A dance between the new bride and her father. It was sweet, and tender, and moving. It was a scene I’ve witnessed many times before, perhaps over a hundred times. But this time, it was different. For the first time, I wasn’t thinking about what the bride was feeling or experiencing in that moment.
I was thinking about my own daughter.
My daughter. She’s named after a person who changed my life, and yet she’s changed my life more than anyone I’ve ever known. And she’s still just seven years old. But it’s all moving so fast, each year passing by like mile markers on the Interstate. Today, I had my final 2nd grade school lunch date with her. In 2 more days, she’ll be a third grader. Next month, she’ll turn eight. Then all-too-soon, sixteen. Then twenty-one. The older she gets, the quicker it goes. And those mile markers keep flying by.
My daughter, the funniest, loveliest, and most wonderful thing God ever thought of. As the time melts away, I find myself wondering more and more what she thinks about, what she dreams of, what she hopes for. Sometimes, I get a glimpse. It’s always much more beautifully simple than I could imagine.
A few months ago, she left me this note on the markerboard on our refrigerator.
It said, “My plantens [planets] program is at 8:30 AM. I hope you can make it.”
For time with me.
Her “Planets Program” was a musical show her second grade class was performing at school. I knew about it well in advance. I had assured her repeatedly that I would be there. Still, she felt the need to tell me about it again, to remind me of my opportunity to see her perform and sing, to be where she was, to let me know of her hope. Her hopes are radiantly uncomplicated now. She wants to spend time with me, to know I’m there, to believe that I care about her and what’s important to her as much or more than I care about anything else.
I know it won’t always be this way. The more mile markers we put in our rear view mirror, the heavier her concerns will become, the more challenging her hopes and dreams will be, the more difficult to see and lay hold of them. I worry about the road ahead. For her. It can be a dark and lonely place, chasing your dreams.
There are so many things I wish I could tell her. Some I can communicate now, and I will. Some she’s not ready to hear. And some, I don’t even have the words for yet, and maybe I never will.
There’s something I wish I could say to her now. But it’s one of those things she’s not ready for yet. But I’ll say it here, so someday she can read it and know that what she hoped for the most was true. I was always thinking of her.
“There are so many wishes I have for you. So many painful moments lay ahead, moments that I wouldn’t try to save you from if I could. Life is going to be hard. It is. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Achingly good. Nothing worth having is easy, so don’t wish the pain away. Feel it, learn from it, know that it can be a gift if you let it. And so many wonderful, resplendently true moments lay ahead for you. Your first kiss (not happy about that one, to be honest), your sweet sixteen, the day you get your license, your high school graduation, the gloriously unbridled college years. I don’t want you to miss any of them, and I don’t want you to take them for granted. Live in the moment, not for the moment or unaware of it. Make people laugh, keep loving Jesus, find your calling, and pursue it with all of your heart.
And one day, there’s going to be an event. This event is going to cost me more than anything ever has, both financially and emotionally. At this event, you’ll pledge your love to another man, the love that was once reserved only for me. After you do that, you’ll be introduced to the crowd gathered with your new last name.
And then, we’ll dance.
I hope you can make it.”