I am mesmerized by a picture of a friend and his daughter. As a divorced dad, he sees his daughter twice a week. In this picture, he is kneeling to be closer to her 6-year-old frame. Their shoulders touch but they are not embracing exactly. His left hand is on her back but it’s not enveloping her. She is leaning into him ever so slightly and she is smiling.
How fast do you change at such a tender age? How much are you learning every day? What is it like to see your father twice a week…not every evening? When you see him on the weekend does it take a few minutes to get used to his presence? How much can Skype and texting and email and phone calls compensate for this loss?
I love this picture because it captures this beautiful moment of a father-daughter reunion. He looks self-contained, proud, and happy. It is a sunny day although the ground is wet, and she is proudly holding her pretty Easter basket. Yes, life is good today. We are together and we belong here, on this day, in this park full of parents and kids.
I don’t have a beautiful picture like this, one of me and my dad. He was home every evening but he was emotionally in another place. I never talked to him about kids at school making fun of me. He didn’t help me with homework, except for a few painful lectures about fractions. (He made me stand beside his desk. It’s hard to learn when your body aches and your father is yelling about numbers.)
In one of our few pictures together, I am about 6 and we are sitting stiffly, next to one another but not touching, at the base of the Statue of Liberty. I was physically next to my dad but I had no clue who or what he was.
I suppose if I had only seen my dad twice a week but we had had a real connection as father and daughter, it would have been fine. Love isn’t chained to a set time table. It’s not about how often you see someone. But do you really see, know, and love this person?