There is this man who has my heart.
When I close my eyes, I can see him and hear him. He is tall, healthy, strong, and handsome. He is a superhero. I can see him picking me up by my waist, and holding me high above his head. My long, dark blonde hair falling down around my face as I laughed with joy.
This man, my dad, told me every day, “Kristy, you are pretty and you are smart”. I believed him. He would talk to me about my dreams, and how I could do anything I set my mind to. I could grow up and be anything I wanted to be. My dad encouraged me to use my voice, to speak up for what is right and when things aren’t, to do the right thing.
My dad made me laugh. He found humor in anything. When I was frustrated he found a way to make me smile. He was charming, witty, and could tell a story in a way that silenced a room.
My dad could comfort me. This man, who was dying, could even in his own illness, hold his little girl in his arms and tell me it would be okay. I would crawl next to him in his bed, and he would have his arms around me, listen to me, tell me that I am a good person, how much he loves me, and that I am pretty and I am smart.
Not many people are blessed with a superhero dad who has their heart. But I am. I am so lucky to know what it truly feels like to be loved and cherished.
When I returned from deployment in 2011, I was in the airport putting my uniform boots back on after having to take them off from going through the security checkpoint when I saw a man and a little girl walk by holding hands. The little girl pointed to me and exclaimed, “Look daddy!” He leaned down to her and said, “See honey, you can be anything you want to be”.
I smiled at them both as I stood there in my military uniform, I couldn’t help but stand up taller, prouder.
Look daddy, I followed my dreams, and the sky is the limit.