At my wedding reception, my dad and I danced our last (and actually, first) dance to Billy Joel's Lullaby. I cried, which frankly, surprised me, but I understand why. Even six months after the wedding, listening to the song and really paying attention to the lyrics makes me tear up a bit.
Growing up, my daddy was my knight in shining armor. He could do no wrong. I didn't see him often, and even as a little girl, this made me cherish every moment spent with him. I remember one time I got mad at him about something (I can't remember what. I think I was five years old.) and he tried to hug me and I folded my arms and jerked away from him. I remember immediately feeling so guilty. Here was my dad, whom I didn't see that often, who took me on bike rides and bought me ice cream and played the Sonic the Hedgehog video game on Sega with me, trying to love me and make me feel better, and I didn't hug him when he wanted a hug. I remember the emotion so well. I felt so bad and I thought I had hurt his feelings horribly.
As I grew older, his flaws were more apparent to me, but still, I ignored them and gave him the benefit of the doubt, with little effort. He was still the Knight. Besides, whenever we hung out, we were best friends. One of my favorite things was the rides we would take in his red jeep. He would speed on long highways through the forest and the top would be down and we'd listen to Linkin Park turned up so loud we could barely hear ourselves scream-singing the songs. One time, we spontaneously decided to turn our drive into a four-wheeling expedition, and got stuck in mud for three hours. The jeep was completely covered in mud - you couldn't even tell what color it was. He didn't even have it cleaned for a couple days, because we enjoyed the stares we would get from people passing by in their nice little clean cars.
It was just a couple years ago that the reality of my dad's mistakes starting dawning on me, and that his perfect image was tainted in my mind. I came to finally be comfortable with the idea that I could be angry with him. For the first time, I realized my dad had failed. Maybe what made it so hard to accept in the first place was the fact that I didn't have a good relationship with my step-dad. The best way to describe my relationship with my fathers is this: my dad was there for me emotionally, and my stepdad was there for me financially. What I didn't receive from one, I received from the other. I had put my trust in these two humans and was disappointed when they failed me. After I couldn't deny any longer that my biological dad was capable of failure, I started looking at God as the one who would never fail.
Time passed and I forgave them both. I've grown and matured, and I understand all the good my step-dad did for me growing up, and I am thankful that he always took care of me. I understand he is only human, and I love him as my father. Our relationship is the best it has ever been. And I am still understand and am aware of my biological dad's mistakes, but I pray for him and love him just the same. Just as much as when he was the Knight. There is no difference. Both men, in a sense, are more human to me than they have ever been.
Mere humans... are as frail as breath.
What makes me cry when I listen to Lullaby is because of just that. I love my dad so much, and I know he loves me, and that love will never change. The unconditional love a parent has for their child is so beautiful, and even though it doesn't always carry on to be mutual, sometimes it does. I know there is nothing my parents could do that would ever break my love or affection for them. Maybe I'm not getting my thoughts across in the exact way I want to. Maybe the emotional importance of this realization cannot be put into words eloquently or clearly enough.
My dad told me when we were dancing that I was his first best friend, and I will always be his best friend, and that he will always be there for me. My dad has not always been there, as far as phone calls and child support checks and birthday presents, but I know the depth of his want to be there for me, and that despite his mistakes as a human, as a man, he still is capable of love this powerful.
Paternal love. Maternal love.
I suppose it means so much to me especially because I am going to be a parent, and am going to have this love for my children. I may never make the mistakes some mothers and fathers make, but I will fail sometimes, because I am mere human. But my love for my children will be a reflection of the love God has for his children - unconditional love that cannot be altered or damaged by anything. Except that God is love, and love never fails. God will never fail us.