October 31st, 2013.
Where is he?
I glance down the memory-drenched hall every few seconds in expectation. I smile to myself. For one so obsessed with managing, I ponder, he is not punctual. I stop and take a step back from rearranging the table, festively decorated with candy corn and cinnamon-scented candles tied with jute. I take a deep breath. I feel like I never get to see you anymore, and it takes events like this for your work to let you go early to help your family. I push my hair out of my face and let out a small giggle. You love it when I curl my hair. I can't wait for you to see it.
Today is our day. It's Reformation Day (or Halloween as most prefer it). This is the day we spend together preparing and carrying out the church's annual festivities. We set up the games, prepare the church-wide meal, and sneak into places we probably shouldn't go and get into the candy we probably shouldn't get into. A perfect day with you, in my book.
I return to my work. The church double doors clank shut, and I hear the distinguishable off-key whistling of the deeply cherished hymn, "A Mighty Fortress." I spin on my heel and run in the direction of the tune, my medieval dresses' trail flapping about my bare feet. Seeing me, you put our lunch and your computer bag on the floor, emptying your reach as if it was ritual. I extend my arms and I jump without hesitation.
You catch me. You always do.
I bury my face in your chest, grinning at the scent of your office in your plaid button-down that you own an extra of in nearly every fall color. No complaining from me. I think you look rather handsome. After all, you're my Daddy. And as long as you're not wearing those hideous overalls without a shirt underneath, you always look handsome.
You set me down and grasp the silly bands on my wrist, pulls them back, and let them snap into my skin with an evil grin. "STOP that!" I playfully slap your arm. We laugh and mess around as I help you carry our family's lunch into the activity center. This has been how Reformation Celebration has gone since I was born. Everything is happy. Everything is perfect. Everything is just the way it should be. Or should I say, it was the way it always had been.
Until you died.
Welcome to Reformation Day in the year 2019. I'm slumped in my room, sipping on a La Croix and typing on my laptop while balling my eyes out. My hair is curly, yes. Just how you like it. But instead of the usual princess dresses of my childhood, I'm in pajamas and an over-sized hoodie. No festivities for me today. No, not without you. It's our thing and there's no I will ever celebrate this day again. Where are you now? Not here. Not with me. Not on this day.
You're missing today. And you're missing so much. Just like you told me I would, I learned to drive. I even bought my car debt-free. Just like you taught me for years. I graduated, but not at sixteen like you hoped (blame Mom for that—she wouldn't let me). I'm going to college! First of all your kids to ever do it, and I am number six out of ten. Don't tell me you're proud. Trust me, I know.
I can't help but miss you with every new encounter I have. You're not going to be there when Mom drops me off at college. You won't be at my college graduation. You're not going to give me my first dance. You're never going to meet my first boyfriend. I can't show you my wedding dress before I show my husband to be. You won't be there to walk me down the aisle. You'll never be at my gender reveal parties. You won't be hyperventilating in the waiting room as I have my first child. You won't hold any of your grand-babies.
I need you back. But as you would want me to, I'm not giving up. I'm moving forward and I'm reaching heights everyone said I couldn't. I promise to never give up. Not a day in my life. I promise to make you even more proud. I'll graduate from college. I'll marry a man that you would be proud of as if he were your own son. I'll raise my kids to love the Lord, just like you raised me. I'll name my first son after you. But it all comes with a price.
You still owe me that first dance.
I'm coming to you. When God chooses for me to, I'm coming home. And I will be a Princess, Child of the King. You already know I'm busting out those princess dresses again. And when I do, you and I will make a date to go to the celestial ballrooms of Heaven. And we are going to have that first dance. Just like you promised. And then I will say, everything is happy. Everything is perfect. Everything is...
... the way it should be.