I had pictured it in my mind a thousand times.
I would wake with a lump in my throat, happy that she had finally found “the one”, and broken hearted that my little redheaded angel, lovingly known as “sister”, would no longer be found in the crib but all grow’d up, in the arms of her love.
I would spend the day reminiscing of times when she was a baby. I would think about when we brought her home, the look on her brothers faces when they first laid eyes on her, and the many family trips we took together. I would be overwhelmed with emotion and probably be a crying mess, because that’s what having a little girl had done to me.
I would shake a little as I put on my tuxedo. I would rehearse the steps for the father/daughter dance in my mind. I would be left breathless when seeing her in her wedding gown for the first time. I would savor every measured step, with her hand in mine, as we walked down the aisle.
Her groom had come; it would be time to give her away.
On September 28th, 2011, when our precious Aria Joy went to be with Jesus, my dream seemed to have been crushed. Without warning or any ability to brace for impact…crushed. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? She was perfectly healthy! She was perfect!
I was the one who put her down for a nap that day. Kelley usually put her down for bed while I would get the boys settled down. Why did this happen when I PUT HER TO SLEEP?! Did I do something wrong? Did I swaddle her wrong?
This COULDN’T happen! I hadn’t seen her walk for the first time yet; I hadnt’t picked her up from soccer practice yet; I hadn’t had the chance to scare off the boys trying to call and see if Aria is at home; we didn’t get our dance!!! NO!
I remember sitting in my bed, facing our new reality, and trying to sort through and put away the future memories, most of which would not come to pass. I was hurt. I was mad. I was broken, but I was not alone. Christ was with me. He had been with me. He gave me license to break. I didn’t have to hold it all together. He would. So I told Him:
“You know I wanted so bad to look into her eyes the way Kelley’s dad looked into her eyes on our wedding day. You know how many times I’ve dreamed of walking her down the aisle, holding her tightly, and presenting her to her groom! Why did you take that away from me?! I wanted to GIVE HER AWAY!!!“
He wasn’t embarrassed by my grief or put off by my questioning. It was in that place that He gave me something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. He simply said…
“You cared for her, you loved her, and on that day you got her dressed, held her tight, and presented Aria Joy to her groom. You gave her to Me”
He gave me back my dream.
Today I woke up with a lump in my throat, happy that she had finally found “The One”, and broken hearted that my little redheaded angel, lovingly known as “sister”, would no longer be found in the crib but in the arms of Love.
I will spend the day reminiscing of times when she was a baby. I will think about when we brought her home, the look on her brothers faces when they first laid eyes on her, and the many family trips we took together. I will be overwhelmed with emotion and probably be a crying mess, because that’s what having a little girl had done to me.
It has been 2 years since Aria Joy went to be with Jesus; and today like everyday until Christ returns, her mother and I will give her away. Surrendering her to her groom…our Savior…our Risen Hope. And because He is the Resurrection and the Life I now have more than a dream; I have a promise.
One day, in the fullness of the presence of God and a multitude of witnesses, I will be left breathless seeing her again for the first time. I will savor every measured step as I walk to my little girl all grow’d up. I will get my dance.
“I have said these these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (ESV)