When I look at my children, I do not merely see fatherless daughters.
At least not anymore.
The immediate weeks after his death, I could barely look my girls in their sparkling ocean eyes without sobbing.
They remind me so much of him.
The sorrow was all-encompassing: all the things that he will miss, all the times they will wish he was here to offer advice or a hug or refuge from their overwhelmed mother.
Now, however…I dare to see past the period of pain, doubt, tears.
I see strong little spirits; on the perpetual cusp of understanding who they are meant to be.
I see little wildflowers; yielding to the rain and looking forward to their time to blossom in the sun.
I see daring little dreamers; not yet knowing that reality and dreams can be thoughtfully entwined.
I see bright little stars; lighting up my darkness with a special flair that is their own.
In the last few days, I have been hit with an onslaught of emotions with Father’s Day quickly approaching.
The greeting card aisles.
The recordable voice books meant to hold precious memories.
The television shows centered around weddings and watching proud fathers walk their glowing daughters down the aisle.
I have been angry.
I have been sad.
I have been weary.
I have been worried and anxious and nervous about what the upcoming day will mean for the girls.
Cailyn unexpectedly announces how much she misses him; in line at the grocery store, while in the bath tub, while at dinner.
She likes to talk about him; she likes to remember the smiles and hugs and the special whistle he let out when ever she dressed up.
She asked me if we could send Daddy a Father’s Day card to Heaven, and I will make that happen. There is a helium tank and many, many bright red balloons tucked in my hall closet for this reason alone — to send a love note whenever they feel the need.
Carys has been making Father’s Day cards for Chad at school this week.
Each day, I check her backpack and find a crisply folded piece of paper, neatly decorated with two stick figures impeccably dressed in Crayola’s finest. A girl and a man, beaming and standing under a tree and smiling sunshine. She’s always wearing pink; he’s always wearing his Wolfpack red. And she always pens, “I love you Daddy.”
My heart hurts for her on a daily basis.
I wonder what she must feel when kids at school talk about their weekends with their families, their moms and their dads.
I wonder if she refuses to talk about it because she’s afraid to cry.
I wonder if she thinks the rest of her life will be so full of hurt and sadness and an empty feeling that no one will ever truly understand.
And then an epiphany.
A thought that I’d thought so many times before, but never quite got.
I am, of course, immensely saddened for my girls.
I cry for them more than they will ever know.
It is true. The most respected, loved and heroic person in their life is no longer here.
There isn’t a physical father in this family of ours.
They do have an outstanding, loving and supportive network of men in their lives that I know are committed to helping these precious girls find their way.
They have a great-grandfather – and they will, many years from now, be aware of how lucky they are to have a relationship with their great grandfather.
They have two grandpas, who spoil the girls rotten and return them to me as the sugar high wears off…which is the way it’s supposed to be.
They have many, many uncles that love my girls as their own; taking turns giving pony rides on their knees or sight-seeing adventures from atop their broad shoulders.
They have cousins who play duck-duck-goose and tic-tac-toe and whatever else their heart desires.
They have the admiration of our male friends, who listen to (and joyfully laugh at) made-up knock-knock jokes and play Barbie or try to teach them karate without my prior knowledge…
We have been blessed in so many ways.
And I cannot continue to weep for my “fatherless” daughters as I have been.
There will always be a part of me that cannot hold back tears when I think about traditional father-daughter moments.
They had an amazing, loving and inspiring father who can never be replaced.
And now the Little Lanford Ladies need (and have) many strong male figures in their life to help fill the void I never will be able to.
I understand it’s not quite the same as having a father. But it certainly helps.
And I’m certainly thankful for each of you who take the time to make them feel special and loved.