My father died ten years ago this June. We were close, but not until I was mostly grown. Now, watching my daughter with her dad, I see all I missed.
These two, Reese and Chris, they are thick as thieves. We are sitting at a baseball game on a sunny Sunday and seven-year-old Reese is curled up in the plastic stadium seat next to her dad, her fingers tapping lightly on his neck as he explains to her every position, the rules of the game, what exactly makes a "pickle."
I have our four-year old son in my lap most of the time and am busy stuffing him full of hot dogs and Cracker Jacks so as to extend our stay, but even through my sticky, ketchupy haze, I can't miss what's before me -- the moment I know Reese will never forget, the moment she learned about baseball from her dad.
It's just one of so many times these two have already shared: He has coached her soccer team, taught her the capital of every state, explained what happens when you die, taken her on nature hikes, skiing, rollerblading and camping. He has told her, a million times maybe, how beautiful and smart and kind she is. He has sprayed her with bug spray, sunscreen and adoration.
I can't help but think all of this has something to do with the way Reese walks, with her confidence, her grace, her ability to lose well and win too. We are every single thing that happens to us and doesn't happen, right? But there is the odd sensation, watching her interaction with her sweet and funny father -- you can almost hear the molecules in her lovely little person coming together in just the right combination because of his goodness, his love, his commitment to his family above all.
She knows who she is in his eyes, and because of it, she is better.
I know this because it is exactly how I once felt.
No, I never had the opportunity to learn at my father's knee -- no baseball or camping or hikes for me. But there were many late night talks by the fire, talks about men and boys and books and music and chocolate and work. All of them were presupposed upon this: Get it the way you want it.
And this: You deserve it. All of this and more.
I will forever miss, when I watch my girl and my man, what I missed once. And what I had, too.
More than anything though, I will be grateful for what we all haven't -- for how much of each other we have inside of us -- for all of the goodness and love, for all of the best of one another bringing out our most charming, most capable, strongest selves. I am grateful for a seven-year-old and her dad watching baseball on a beautiful spring day.
I just wish my Dad were here to see it, too.
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