One of my most vivid memories, one that makes me tear up every time, is the day you were born. You see, we bonded from that very moment you opened your eyes, you took my breath away and locked onto my heart forever. I smiled and held your hand, and a nurse looked at me and said, "Oh my, she's definitely a Daddy's Girl." She was right.
We've shared laughs and we've shared tears, happy times, sad times, and differences of opinions. Through it all, I've given you space to grow, to learn, to struggle, to fail. But, no matter what, you've always known that I'm here for you. Here to listen, here for a hug, here for a shoulder to cry on, here to give you advice, and if you need it, here for shelter, to reset, to focus again on those days of happiness that you know are there, at your fingertips.
I know that you never want more than happiness and perhaps that's because I've preached for years that happiness is all that matters. When you are happy, I see your heart shine, I feel it. I've always seen that beacon in you, casting light in the night, protecting those you love, yet not always thinking about the light that should shine on you. I raised you not to be selfish, to share happiness and love, to give more than you take. You have always done exactly that.
Now that I have more experience as a Dad since that morning you were born, and you have grown to be a beautiful lady, adulting, giving your life every effort to be happy, I want you to be selfish for just a little while. I want you to look in the mirror and smile. I want you to wear that smile, to share it, to be contagious, to spread the joy of life. I want you to live your dreams and to be loved by those of us that share your dreams.
I want you to laugh and sing like we did that one summer afternoon on the way to the beach. Man, we nailed it that day! I want you to experience the freedom you felt when I pushed you on a swing and you dropped your head back and your blonde haired flowed in the wind. I want you to walk tall with pride like I saw you do each and every time you took to the mats in cheerleading and shout to the world that you are confident and that there's no challenge that can stop you.
Most of all, I just want to continue to share the relationship we have, the one where you can call me and we can talk about anything, or nothing, but I'll be happy to hear from you and you from me. I want to continue that relationship where I miss you every day and I think about the next time we'll get a chance to share a meal, or sit on the couch and binge watch some show I have no interest in, but because you are next to me, I'll be happy because you'll be happy, or we get back in that car for an encore performance to the beach.
You see my daughter, life is about singing and listening to the music the world has to offer. It's our life song and it plays now and it plays forever. Each day, we must dance to this song, and if you get tired, know that you can always dance on my toes, and I'll carry us both to the melody that hasn't stopped since the day that you came into my world as my baby girl.
Awoken from a sound sleep
To the ringing of a cell phone.
Late enough in the morning
Not to expect the worst.
An unfamiliar voice crackles
Through a poor connection.
Hysterical, her words are not
Quite clear, or I’m still groggy.
“What?” I shout into the phone
Because I think she can’t hear me.
“Your Dad was killed last night!”
Suddenly the connection was clear.
My brain heard the message,
Though I must have been dreaming.
The phone call continued for a
brief moment of time, but…
Silence had overtaken my world.
A shock had kept me in my nightmare.
The house was empty and only
My voice could be heard as I paced aimlessly.
This wasn’t the first call with this news.
Years prior, there was another.
As I sat in a rocking chair,
I felt a disturbance in my soul.
I knew my family was feeling sorrow,
I was certain when the phone rang.
“Your Dad is being rushed to the hospital,”
My cousin said, and I hung up the phone.
Half way through the ride to the hospital,
A calmness took over my body.
I said to my wife,
Not a tear was shed, perhaps,
Because, peace he had found.
Heads were all dropped as I arrived,
Confirming the calmness felt.
My emotions erupted as reality
Set in, he was gone from our lives.
I wasn’t present for my Dad’s
Moments of death.
They have since reached for me
To communicate their peace.
Their Earthly sufferings are over.
They have found happiness and comfort.
The chapters of their lives will carry on
In the generations that follow.
Their stories have no ending, this poem is proof.
They are with me now and always.
Robert Stanhope started creative writing during his Junior year of high school. In his twenties, he became a motorsports journalist and was published in a number of local, regional, and national trade publications. Now in his early 40s, Bob has returned to creatively writing, including embarking on his first novel, The Last Lie.