It’s getting late and she’s fading, so he carries her around the dance floor.
It’s been past her bedtime and like most three-year-olds she’s oscillating between euphoria and utter despair.
I want to tell her how special this moment is to her father. That years from now when they dance, she’ll be able to look into his eyes better than I ever could. I want to tell her that he cried when I put on my white dress and walked to him, but that he’ll be a real mess when she puts on hers.
I want to tell her to remember this, but I know she’s too young.
This night of gliding along polished wood floors will belong to her father forever. He’ll remember the feel of her little hand in his. The way she pressed into his chest. The way she laughed when they spun, and the way her hair smelled as she lay on his shoulder. For her, this night will fade into a blur of songs and light. A feeling of warmth and comfort. A too late night with lots of people and so much cake.
They dance off to the side – on their own dance floor and in their own world. She snuggles into his collar. Safe. A little girl dancing with her dad. He holds her in his arms, but this moment will go on to live in his heart and mine.
How many dances left until he doesn’t have to hold her?
How many more until she won’t let him?
How many spins before she’d rather dance in a group with her friends?
How many after that before she dances with boy?
I want to keep them there, together on that floor. I want to tell him that he doesn’t have to worry. That she’ll never look at another person the way she looks at him. That no man ever takes the place of a father, but in his own sort of tragic way he already knows that. Because he didn’t grow up with one.
So, instead I show him a picture from my phone and his face breaks into a grin. A daddy and his girl. A father and his joy.
It’s easy to focus on ‘firsts’ when your child is young, so the ‘lasts’ creep up on you and the time feels stolen.
The songs all end and the nights do, too. The picture I showed him, printed out, will fade, but the way he loves her is something infinite. Something that transcends. Something with only beginnings.
She begs him for one more song and he takes her out to the dance floor, again.
There has to be another name for what I’m witnessing. A name less common. Less plain.
‘Fatherhood’ feels too ordinary a word. I can’t understand how it could possibly encompass a love this big.
The song changes and I think about God, about miracles, about being here, about bearing witness. Maybe the miracle is in the everyday – the ordinary. That through His Grace, something so perfect and so pure could be made, in fact, common.
What wisdom our Heavenly Father has, and maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe ‘fatherhood’ is the right word after all. Maybe it’s perfect and just as it should be.
Maybe, He and I, maybe we’ve been dancing all along.
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The Memory Keep Series by Liza Dora
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