The love of his life

From the very first time daddy saw her big brown eyes, he knew there was no coming back from the stare she was fixing on him. Daddy knew she meant business and he knew he was in the most amazing kind of trouble he was ever going to handle.

She was born on a Friday. Born in the middle of an unrelenting heat that was holding the days hostage and keeping her mama from sleep while daddy kept busy with worries and the hope. A hope that wasn’t so much a secret as a gathering of hushed smiles from all the corners of family interest. The hope of a daughter to follow the son.

Daddy wanted a daughter.

Women had always been his world- from the ones who raised him to the ones who loved and cursed and cooked and sang and befriended him. And so, he wanted a daughter just so he could understand how the miracle of those curls and curses and the lovely of their lilt behaved from the very beginning of things.

Mom and dad decided against knowing. They decided to forego the ultrasound and dress the arrival of their next child to an old school welcome. The nursery would remain stark white, the linens neutral and the talk a wonderful mystery.

The time grew near with mom praying for term and dad perfecting the bemused response to never ending queries from family and friends.

Daddy had two names at the ready. Sean if it was a boy and Arianna for a girl. His crystal ball was a rootless wander to which he had already fallen in love with either possibility. Blue or pink, come what may.

When the day came, it was pink and the name was announced as Arianna, and daddy cried. He cried while holding her and he cried while handing her back to mama and he cried on the drive home to shower and change before making his way back to the hospital. He cried more than the stubborn clouds hanging inside an unforgiving summer heat.

Eighteen years fell away as if leaves of a tree at season’s turn.

On her special day, she had a drivers test to pass and daddy assured her it was going to be just fine. He bored her with Zen, telling her that the way mattered more than the aim. He made her laugh with stories of his first driving test. He reminded her that breathing was way more important than the results of any test.

When she passed, he hugged her and he planted her with a great big kiss and he let her have it with an “I told you so!” And then he tossed her the keys and told her to drive them home. They had a birthday party to get to and she had a plane to catch on Monday for college.

He watched her drive them home and he busied himself with the millionth reminder checklist that began with call me every night but then he stopped himself and just let her drive the car. It was her future she was driving towards. She had the keys.

The sky was blue but the day was pink. Eighteen years seemed not enough.



16 thoughts on “The love of his life

  1. Oh Cayman,
    I’m at a loss for words and completely choked up at your beautiful tribute to Arianna (LOVE her chosen name!). It’s a tribute she’ll read over and over again and treasure forever. I’m remember when my Tanna turned 18. It’s bittersweet to see them turn into the compassionate, smart independent adults we had always hoped for.

    “Couldn’t wait to get going, but wasn’t quite ready to leave” American Honey by Lady Antebellum

    • Mama- You are so right. It doesn’t seem possible, all that time gone by already. Sometimes I think I’m going to wake up and the kids are going to be in their cribs and all of this will have just been a dream. Alas, it’s called life and life doesn’t work that way.
      But we loved them and we taught them and we were there for them, right? It helps to know that.
      Thank you for reading and for your beautiful thoughts.

  2. In the car running errands (not driving). Reading on my phone. I have so much catching up to do . This. This made me cry. I’d hug you, if I could. Oh, my, Cayman, you are some wonderful daddy. Arianna is a lucky, lucky girl. And you are mighty blessed.

    • Mary- I am so very blessed, you’re right. My kids are my talisman, they help me make sense of the world when I’m at a loss, which is all the time. I have been weepy all week, what with bringing Tebow back for his family to adopt, and then seeing off the girl and tomorrow, I drive the boy back to school. I’m glad for being as busy as I have been, because it helps to keep moving when I just want to crawl into bed for a good day’s worth of crying.
      I must tell you that about halfway through this, I started thinking about where I was getting this particular style from. I don’t usually write this beautifully. I’m more of a jagged pill. And then it hit me, YOU. I was borrowing your style. So thank you. And thank you. And yes, thank you.

  3. I’m a daddy as well Cayman, to a beautiful young lady who got the car keys six years ago. Not knowing what I was going to be blessed with I remember yelling “Yes!!!!” in the delivery room. So happy. She’s all I had. She’s all I really need. I just wish I could tell a story like you can… Simply brilliant!!
    “Thank heaven for little girls…”

  4. Oh my God. Dude. That was amazingly beautiful. This tribute is something that every daughter wants to imagine. “The most amazing kind of trouble” I love that. You’re a great Dad and no worries about the 18 years because she’s gonna be back and you’re gonna be her Dad forever. Great post! Sending you some positive vibes while she’s at school.

    • Cali- I know that Papi is forever after looking down on his little girl and smiling it up. He did an amazing job in raising you. If I’m a great Dad, it’s only because I have an amazing Daughter. You would know a thing or two about that.

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