She’s five now, racing towards six. From the time you become a parent, other people who have been down that road already will always tell you to try and savor every moment.
“It goes by so quick,” they say, with a sigh. I would nod and agree, but I didn’t really get it until now I don’t think. If you’re a dad (or a mom) you know exactly what I’m saying. Or you will soon enough.
Violet will be walking through the big doors to kindergarten here in a few short weeks and it’s difficult for me to understand how this is not years away, or even months away, anymore. It’s only weeks away and then, just as soon as those weeks find a way to wiggle out of my grasp like they always do, it will be a matter of hours, then minutes, and then finally a few fleeting seconds flying off like pigeons scattering before some city bus.
Of all the stuff that has happened to me in my life so far, nothing has charmed and lifted me as much as Violet did on that very day, almost six years ago, when her mom first told me that we were going to be parents. I felt Violet’s spirit waffle down into my being the second I got the news, hurdling down out of the far corners of the galaxy and slamming into my chest and my soul like a billion comets colliding at once. I was so excited to be her daddy from that instant on.
The feeling never goes away, either. See, in case you aren’t lucky enough to know it, being a little girl’s daddy is more than I can even deal with sometimes, but in the greatest of ways.
In Violet, I am forgiven for anything I ever did wrong in this world. Absolute amnesty is mine. I’m dead serious. It falls out of the sparkle in her eyes every day, in a trillion ways. When I surprise her out in the yard with a popsicle on a sweltering afternoon, her smile blows apart any regrets I’ve ever had. Kids can do that, you know? They really can. I suspect that little girls can do it for their dads better than anyone. I hand her a popsicle, she beams up at me, the world melts away for a split second. That’s all it takes. Because each of those seconds lasts forever if you want them to.
I stare at my little girl when she sleeps. Maybe you stare at your kids when they’re sleeping? If you never have and you were to catch me doing it, it might freak you out a little, I guess, but you’d see what was up after a bit. I just stand there and watch her dreaming away and when I do that, I know we’re always going to be okay, me and her. So much sadness and pain and trouble will keep on rising up in our lives, but watching her five-year-old head down there on the pillow, I think about all the insanely intelligent things she says to me through the course of any day.
“Daddy, why did woolly mammoths not take an airplane when the big meteor hit the Earth? That way they would have been in the sky and not on the ground and they would have lived!”
It’s brilliant in a way. Not the science of it, of course, but the fact that it’s this wonderfully cohesive idea being born up in the mind of a tiny kiddo with my blood coursing through her veins.
I’ve never known love like when she climbs up in my lap, tired after playing in the snow. And I’ve never tasted any food that tastes as good as the microwave lasagna she holds out on her fork, a sly grin on her face my invitation to gobble it down. I’ve seen a lot of magical things in my time, but I’ve never seen anything as magical as her curls slapping around her forehead in my rear view as we roll down the road and the wind bursts in through the car.
Pride can kill a man if he mishandles and abuses it, but I’m thinking that pride, the kind I feel for being Violet’s dad, that stuff could possibly keep me alive longer than I’m supposed to be around, you know?
I never imagined myself as the kind of fella who would hang on to useless days and years, all my juice and breath coming to me through some twisted mass of hospital tubes and masks and all. But if I even thought I heard her voice out there in the ether, begging me to hang on, well, I will hang on, my friend.
For a girl named Violet, I will hang on like hell.
Image: Bielanko Private
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