My life is surrounded by tears these days. Connor falls and he cries. Kinsey takes something away from him and he cries. He takes something away from her and she cries.
I don't cry much. Compelling, sweeping music accompanied by some images can really get me a little teary. Watching relationships restored can bring some blurriness. But I don't often sob.
I did last Wednesday night.
On Wednesday nights, we get home late. We typically are at church until 8:20 or 8:30 cleaning up and talking with friends. Then it's another 20 minutes home, creating late nights for the kids. These days, Sheryl takes care of Connor's bedtime and I take care of Kinsey's. She'll pick out a book and either I'll read it, or I'll have her read it, and last Wednesday night, she picked out The Giving Tree, a book I've loved since I was a little boy and my parents read to me.
We read through it and as I started to read, I started getting tears in my eyes, because here I was, reading the story of a boy grows up seeking after the "good" things in life and the tree completely pours out itself for the boy. But what got to me was seeing the joy in this boy and then watching him grow out of that and away from that, and the sadness of the tree. And when in the final scenes, the boy returns as an old man and the tree (now a stump) pulls itself up for him to sit and just enjoy each other's presence, I began to seriously cry. Because I was seeing my future with my kids. They are going to grow away from me. Sheryl and I won't be the primary influences in their lives and they will lose some of the joy they have now.
Kinsey, of course, was completely confused, and asked me why I was crying like that. And through my tears, I tried to explain that it was a combination of being happy and sad: happy that I had such beautiful children that I loved so and that loved me and Mommy, but sad that these times won't last forever, that they were going to grow up and move away and they wouldn't be our little children any longer. They'll always be our children, but things change and people grow up. And as I did that, the tears became stronger, and all of a sudden, Kinsey sits up in her bed, now with tears springing to her eyes, and hugged me tight: "Oh Daddy! I'll always be your girl!"
We clung to each other for a couple of minutes and then broke apart with a little chuckle to go get a tissue to wipe our eyes and noses. We prayed for each other, thanking God for each other and the love that we have. I kissed her, turned out her light, and she fell asleep quickly.
It was one of the most special times I've ever had. A little physical manifestation of the love that a father and daughter can have with each other, and on those days that we don't get along, I will hold that as an ember.