I was going to write a post for Father’s Day, but then my Dad suggested that I share a letter I wrote about a year and a half ago, as well as his response. So, I decided to do that. I have no fixed any of the ages or information:
A Daughter’s Letter:
Life is fear. And lots of it.
When I was little, I was scared of the monsters under the bed, Santa getting lost and missing my house, and spiders. Now that I’m older, I’m scared of the future and spiders.
I have a rose from my Grandfather’s funeral to remind me that death and sorrow are real. This was the first time I cried at a funeral, which was the same day that I realized that there would be one less hand to hold mine when I needed someone there.
The most painful thing I’ve learned so far is that no matter how much love I wrap my family members in, no matter how many ropes I weave from their hearts to mine, they cannot stay with me forever. The ones that I hold most dear to me are growing older as I am. And it terrifies me. Because one day, the wind will carry them home, and they won’t be here with me to dry my tears, to hug me and tell me it will be ok. Even though a heart can be the home of memories, a home can’t be a heart.
And I’m scared of growing up and moving on.
Daddy, I miss you. And I know break just ended, and I saw you a lot; but I miss you. I miss our talks, your hugs, cuddle sessions on the couch. And even though I’m in college and still live under the same roof, I never see you. And it’s hard, and it’s painful.
I’ve given this whole “growing up” thing a shot, and I’ve decided that it isn’t for me. I want to go back to when I was five. I want to go back to the days of playing airplanes, back scratch wars, sitting in your fort, curling up next to you and falling asleep. I want to go back to the times when putting a Band-Aid on a cut was enough, because now there’s pain that you can’t fix even though you try so hard to do so. I want to go back to the days when you held my hand to cross the street, and to teach me to walk. I want you to hold my hand forever, because I’m scared of tripping and falling. These shoes of adulthood are too big for me.
And I can’t help but think if this is how I feel now, how am I going to feel when I don’t live with you? How am I going to feel when you’re not there every day for a hug?
And while I’m sitting here trying to figure it out, the world keeps spinning. People keep breathing, and while my mind is stuck in a corner, refusing to let go, I’m getting older and closer to moving on.
I know I’m only 18, and I have my whole life ahead of me to ‘figure it out,’ but that’s what scares me the most: not figuring it out.
Because life is a mystery. Life is pain, fear, and love. And when you love someone, pain is involved.
And Daddy, I know I’m growing older, but I’ll always be your little girl.
Right now I’m just confused about why life must hurt so much. Right now I’m just scared about what the future holds.
And I don’t know if I’m ready for it, any of it.
I want to be five again. Then I can say “tay me bit more,” and it might actually work.
A Father’s Response: (originally posted on his blog: http://rdistaffen.blogspot.com/
When you were younger I was afraid of monsters in cars trying to steal you, but not spiders so much. Now that you are older, I am afraid of boys, but still not spiders.
I, too, miss grandpa. There are still times I have a question I want to ask him, or something my girls do I want to brag to him about. There are times I realize that even though he is gone he has planted a deep impression of himself in me; when I sound like him, or deliver a witty comeback, or unleash an amazing joke.
Kaleigh, I miss you too. Observing from a distance is no fun. I can tell you, everyday I am amazed at how much you have grown and matured and become a lovely young woman who loves Jesus. I miss you sitting in my fort, cuddling on the couch, and especially back scratch wars.
When you were younger and something broke, I would tell you to put it on my desk. Then I would fix it. Even then I knew that someday there would be a problem that wouldn’t fit on my desk and I wouldn’t be able to fix. So, when I superglued a limb back on a plastic doll, or untangled a dollar store necklace, or taped the cover on a book, I prayed, “Father, your eyes are better than mine, your superglue stronger, and your tape more adhesive. When my girls’ problems are bigger than I can fix can we put them on your big desk and let you take care of them?” It was at times like that the words of Ira Stanphill’s song would float through my mind.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
I remember in vivid detail that day as a toddler that you announced that you had two daddies. I was confused until you explained with great earnestness, your little finger pointing in the air, “I have a heavenly Father” then your little finger pointed at me, “and a down-here daddy.”
I long for the days when you were little and you would say, “ ‘tay me bit more.” and I would linger for a few more minutes, snuggling you. I wish you still needed to hold my hand in busy parking lots. But you are growing older, and I am still stuck at 25.
I feel a bit like Moses, who after leading the people of God for 80 years, stood with them on the border of the Promised Land and told them he wasn’t crossing the Jordan river with them. He finished his comments with these words, found in Deuteronomy 31 and verse 6.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Don’t be afraid Kaleigh, when your down here daddy can’t hold your hand, or fix what is broken, or isn’t nearby, because your Heavenly Father is holding your hand, helping you cross the street or the river. Be strong and courageous.
I have learned so many things from my Father, from his father, and from my Mother’s Father. I’ve learned how to have a good sense of humor, even when I cannot laugh. I’ve learned to question everything, keep learning, keep reading, because life has so much to teach. I’ve learned the characteristics of a good man, a faithful man, a strong man, the kind of man I should marry, the kind of (wo)man I should be. And I hope one day, the two of us can teach our children what it means to be strong in the storm, the same things my Father taught me.