During the ceremony, Ella traveled from lap to lap starting and ending with me. We were both growing weary. The stimulation was unbearable now. I sensed Ella’s unease.
Ella wasn’t talking back then, but she didn’t have to. I could read her mind. It was as if she was saying, “Dad, there’s shade under those two trees across the long field.” “Great idea,” I whispered in return.
We both stared toward the two trees with a longing.
There we would find the peace we craved under the canopy of those two trees. Though, the trek was the full length of a football field.
I was as weary as she was. The sun had grown hot, and it wasn’t going to cool off anytime soon. We could no longer stand idly, but the long walk might be painful too.
We decided it would be better to watch from a distance in the quiet of our own thoughts than endure the crowd. We wanted to rest and wait for mom until she was done giving hugs and taking pictures with her brother.
“But Daddy,” she thought, “It sure looks like a long way to travel.”
Ella nuzzled her face into my shoulder. I looked again – for the both of us. This time as if through her squinting eyes.
It was intensely bright. And the gleaming yellow sun sure was hot. I imagined that Ella was intimidated, unsure and looked to me for reassurance.
To Ella, that field was a long haul, an absolute prairie. The grass raced onward far beyond what she could fathom.
And for a moment, we both paused. She was waiting for me.
Her eyes had now glazed over. She perked her head back up, and stared toward the immeasurable distance over my shoulder.
I watched her in-decision.
Or at least this is how I imagined my little girl would someday feel when faced with challenge.
I asked myself as her father,
What will this gaze of Ella’s mean? What would I tell my child when faced with challenge?
I had the eerie feeling that this would be the first of many challenges we’d face together. There’d be many more gazes…
My imagination folded into another thought-dream…
It was Ella’s guardian angel who fluttered softly downward as a reflection of the sun and opened up to me like a kaleidoscope.
“How far can you walk Daddy?” it asked.
I thought about this question deeply.
Taking this first step toward those trees was my commitment to us, and going all the way was a promise I swore my life on.
That was the day I determined that life happens to the ready. So wake up ready.
The angel asked again, “But how far can you walk, Daddy?”
As far as needed, I answered and woke from my thought-dream. Then held Ella above my head, and staring into her eyes, I said,
As far as needed baby girl.
And with that I took my first step, and walked.
The first step was my commitment. The journey is my promise.
As I walked, I told her about how it feels to be standing at the foot of your mountain of dreams. With each step, I told her nothing is as hard as it seems.
What would you tell your child?