Christmas Eve mass 2011 at the Notre Dame basilica. Mike and I are sitting up behind the altar where Dad always used to like to sit so he could smell the incense. I look across the way and there is a grandfather playing with his toddler grandkids. I lost it. Another surge of grief came streaming down my face and sobs from deep within. All I could think was, “How could I ever have a child without my Dad present? I don’t know if I can do it!!”
Well, here I am 71/2 years later and I’m doing it. That fear has been worked through. Years have passed since Dad died, and I have no doubt in my mind or heart that he will be there.
A friend of mine said it best over text a few weeks ago, “Baby S has the best guardian angel. Plus I kinda feel like they’ve had a few chats up there. When they are ready, she’ll come down here, and you’ll feel an even closer bond with him. It’s like your Dad and Baby S will share a secret or something.” Sounds about right to me.
I do believe that our closest loved ones in heaven cross paths with the babies who come into this world. I had a cousin who called me soon after Dad passed when she had her baby. Her labor was a little rough and the one thing she said was that she just felt like my Dad helped. He had a hand in it. I could feel that.
Now I’m about to have my own child. My Dad isn’t here. It breaks my heart, yes. But I’ve accepted it. It’s like God had me wait long enough to know I’d be ready to do it without Dad here. It’s also not the first big thing I’ve gotten through without him. Multiple big life situations when I desperately wanted to call him – like getting married, going through infertility, becoming a stepmom, I couldn’t. And I grew from it. Yet through all these things, I know like I know my name -he was there.
I know he’ll be there when the baby arrives and I’ll cry even harder knowing that. But that’s okay because I know he’s closer than a plane ride.
Fathers and daughters share a special bond. Moms and daughters do too of course. But there is just something about dads and daughters. It’s special. it’s something that doesn’t go away, ever. It’s a love that makes you always feel protected, cared for, loved, admired and understood. It’s an example of how the Father loves us. Or if it doesn’t exist, it’s a way for God to fill in the cracks and love us like we’ve never understood. I don’t know who said this quote, but I love it.
It can only be made from heaven. To me, it can only root itself in the love of THE Father.
It’s more than likely that you know the John Mayer song, “Daughters.” I’ve started a few playlists for Baby Schoeller, and one is called “Daughters” with affectionate lullaby type songs that I hope as she grows, will warm he heart. This lyric below reminds me how blessed I was to have a loving Father. But also, that being a loving stepmom and mom to our daughter coming is just as important.
One of my friends, who was at the baby shower on Saturday shares my love of music. She in particular has a huge obsession with John Mayer. (Totally understandable.) On Saturday she gave me a sweet framed picture for the baby’s room. See below. It’s the first lyric of “Daughters.” I have no doubt this little girl in my tummy will do just that, and I can’t wait to hang this in her room and play the song for her.
I can’t finish this post without recognizing two more fathers. First — my husband. What a Dad he is. He loves his kids fiercely. He is solid. He is present. He is ready to drop everything and be there no matter what his kids need (like my Dad). Most importantly, he trust that God has got each of them in the palm of his hand and let me tell you, it hasn’t always been easy. He’s had to let go and let God – a LOT.
He’s had a busy year with them thus far. Drove out with me to be with Matt in May for his birthday. Drove to North Carolina a week later to see Abi, the oldest graduate from NC State. He took days off earlier this week to be with Matt, the youngest, in Lansing, MI for his orientation at Michigan State. Then, Saturday, he’ll be getting in the truck to drive out to New Jersey to watch Matt graduate from high school. (I’m too pregnant to go).
The man SHOWS UP. I’m not just saying out of duty, but out of love. He loves them with everything he’s got and he’s emotional when he speaks about them. It’s amazing how much he has displayed the love of the Father God to me and to his kids. He reminds me of my Dad, doesn’t care about driving 10 hours to see his kid. My Dad didn’t care about getting in a car or on a train to come see me every other weekend. He showed up without skipping a beat. That’s the kind of man I am so glad God blessed me with, and the kind of man I hope our daughters and newest daughter find both in God and in a companion.
This brings me to the second – Father God. My Dad’s love showed me the love of Our Father. My husband, who would never take the credit for this, showed me who God really is. As I was getting to know God again, he reminded me that God loves me no matter what I’ve done and wants a relationship with me. That’s God. What a blessing it is, that God uses the fathers and men in our loves to show us his love. And guess what? I absolutely know that our fathers disappoint us! I know my Dad did me, and Mike will fully admit he has too! They are human!! But the beauty is, even if you never had a Dad in your life, or a terrible one at that – this is your opportunity. This is your opportunity not to hate God for what he didn’t give you, but to TURN to him. This is your opportunity to realize that HE is right there waiting for you to invite him in and let him fill that entire gap God left. I have certainly found gaps in my Dad’s parenting and with him gone when he filled such a hole? Losing him was what made me fully and entirely rely on God because I had to. Dad and daughter relationships aren’t always easy, but God is there to ease the burden.
Next Wednesday, my husband will come home, because Matt’s graduation is on Tuesday (don’t get it!), and we will get ready for Baby Schoeller’s arrival. I’m excited to have him alongside me because he’s done it three times already, but also because I know he’s going to be a great Dad, just like my Dad was, and Father God is. I can’t wait to see how my Dad shows up in this child and to feel more connected to him in whatever ways God plans. But I especially can’t wait to walk the parenthood journey with this guy.
Wherever you are at this Father’s Day, I’m sending you prayers, love and hope that if there are gaps you haven’t been able to fill from your relationship with your Dad, that you may have been searching for in this world – God is there. I promise if you let him he will fill up your cup.
My cup overflows with your blessing. Psalm 23:5
If you just need to rest in the love of God, here is a great song for you to just be still and know.
And just in case you don’t know “Daughters”, here you go —