I’m not sure about a lot, but what I do know is the way your eyes squint and fill with tears when you are laughing really, really hard – the look of pure, contagious joy – is one of my favorite things in the world. That, and sitting next to you in the passenger seat, drumming and orchestrating our make believe band, brings a smile to my face every. single. time.
It was just this past weekend while dancing at a wedding surrounded by lifelong friends, that I found myself pausing for a moment to look for you in the crowd. In between flailing dance moves, I got thinking about the unspoken yet important idea of longing, looking, and the presence of those we love.
Searching for someone in a crowded room and the look of relief when you finally find them and make eye contact. The “favorites” tab on my iPhone – a short but important list of my go-to people I can call with just a click of a button. The fact that the first thing you search for in a frantic, chaotic situation are the ones you love. Outreached arms for the person walking towards you. Holding hands, a simple but symbolic gesture communicating that in that moment, you do not need to face the world alone. The ease and comfort you feel when you are sitting around a table, dancing in a circle, or driving in a full car and realizing the irreplaceable presence and love for each person around you.
I can’t pinpoint the reason, but in that moment on the crowded dance floor, it struck me unlike any time before just how lucky and grateful I am to have you not only as my Dad – my lifeboat – but one of my best friends as well. Maybe it was the fact that the last time we were dancing together at a wedding, you would be going into life-saving surgery just a couple weeks later, or the fact that the person sitting and dancing next to me that day would do anything to have his Dad back for one more day.
You are the constant, (sometimes silent) force in my life pushing me to continue on – eye contact from the court during a particularly tough basketball game in high school or seeing you from afar standing on the sideline each year as I run the marathon and reassuring me as I pass, “To the lighthouse and back. You’re kicking butt.” You are the one person guaranteed to pick me up when I’m down and leave me crying from laughter even minutes after you told that stupid joke, yet again.
It’s hard to put into words how much you have (sometimes unknowingly) taught me about life, but your constant optimism and sunny outlook on life that you have passed on to me and share with everyone you know, day in and day out, is something I will never be able to thank you enough for.
These are the beautifully important things you have taught me about life throughout the years:
- There is always enough room and time for dessert. Life is too short. Order the chocolate cake and enjoy every single bite to yourself. When it comes to dessert, get your own.
- Never judge or put someone down who is trying. “At least they are out there!”
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh at stupid jokes and continue making stupid jokes for as long as you live.
- You can sleep when you’re dead, but don’t underestimate the power of a good nap.
- Great music is intended to be listened to at loud volumes.
- Never underestimate yourself. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
- Some of life’s greatest lessons can be found in a Bruce Springsteen song.
- You’ll never know if you don’t try.
- Adding malt to a chocolate milkshake is a game changer.
- Don’t let anyone intimidate you. People are just people. “It’s just a conversation.”
- Don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like Bruce Springsteen or Jimmy Buffet, or the movie Tommy Boy.
- Don’t keep anyone around who doesn’t make you his top priority.
- Be present in every moment. If you put in the effort to notice, the good easily outweighs the bad.
- Train yourself to see the bright side in all situations.
- No matter how far, no matter the situation, you are always welcome home.