I would like to share with you a memory.
A memory I’ve tucked into a small wooden music box, with trinkets and keepsakes – faded baby blanket, first tooth, graduation caps.
It was the year 2008 – the Year of Transition, as I have coined it. Because my still-kid-at-heart self could never have prepared for all the changes that took place in that 12-month chunk.
From those 365 days, I want pluck out this particular Wednesday, smack in the middle of a rain-sprinkled Portland March.
From what the pictures show, I looked like this: gold sequin dress, strappy heels, hair curled and eyelids painted with shimmer.
To you, Dad, my look that day was a far cry from my normal attire – hair pulled back in a ponytail, dressed in too-short Old Navy jeans (those long legs came from you, you know), chap stick and a bit of blush my sole makeup items.
But no amount of glitter could ever hide the crazy, spontaneous-dancing, hyena-laughing me that you raised.
Now, back to that Wednesday.
We stood in wings of the school auditorium, looking at the spotlight on stage.
You were full of questions. So many questions that I had to let the giggles seep out.
Dad, I’m the one that has to be on stage, read my speech, answer questions, manage to walk without tripping over this dress.
I have to admit, it was amusing to see you a bit anxious, your usually take-charge demeanor slipping down to reveal your nervousness for me.
I loved seeing that part of you, Dad.
In that moment, it was my chance to reassure you, which didn’t take more than me slipping my arm through yours.
Link arms. Walk. Smile. That’s all you have to do, Dad. I’ve got you. You’ve got me.
And that’s the thing, Dad. You had me. You had me so love-soaked, sitting in the middle of your heart that day as I watched you be Dad. My dad.
After you walked me down the aisle, there was a speech. A speech where I told stories of you and Mom and Grammy, my God-given earthly trinity throughout my childhood years.
There was a question and answer session, too. Yes, I did share about my hidden desire to be a leprechaun, to crawl up and sit on peoples shoulders to whisper songs and encouragement and jokes.
I had you in stitches, you said. We gave each other a lot of stitches in our day, didn’t we.
Afterwards, there was lunch – pasta and a fried Snickers dessert that we polished off, plate licked – weren’t we a couple of kids…
Then it was time. Our time.
When we stood backstage, I saw your glow.
At that moment, it could have ended there. In my mind, I had already won the best kind of prize. But your glow only got stronger.
Taylor Smith, I was announced.
There was noise. I’m sure there was noise, but to tell you the truth, I really don’t remember noise. Or where I sat on stage. Or who was announcing my name.
All I saw was your smile, your giant smile and giant hands and giant body, strong and striding and strapping, Dad, that was you.
You are what I remember on that day.
You walked me across the stage, smiled and kissed me.
If that was all that happened that day, that would have been a dream enough.
The other moments of that day are taped in the scrapbook, stored in the memory vault, but they pale in comparison to my moment with you, Dad.
I became a princess that day, but it was then that I realized that I was your princess. Your little girl. Your little girl who was growing up and wearing a gown and makeup and getting ready to graduate and start college.
Maybe that’s what you saw in me that day. A flashback of your little toehead daughter, racing across the beach to burry you in golden sand. Then a flash-forward to your daughter nearly six feet tall, resting her arm on yours as you led her into the world.
What I saw in you that day was daddy sweet. What a gift that was.
Maybe it was a gift that you expected to give me later. But only God would know that I would need it right then.
For my next aisle-walking moment, I’m sure you thought you’d be there.
I’ve never been the girl to dwell on my someday wedding, but when I do let my mind wander there, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there is something missing: you, walking with me down the aisle, sliced down the center of warmth and love.
The more I think about it, the more I realize there’s no need to over think it.
If I ever do go down that aisle, I will know exactly what it feels like to have you walk me down it, because you already have.