When I was a little girl and old enough to love anyone, my dad became my first love and my hero. I was his princess and I knew it. At the moment I was old enough to love him back, I handed him that big ole daddy super hero cape to fit into for life. He was never supposed to take it off. After all, every child genuinely believes that daddies are super heroes that fight off the villains and slay the dragons of our tiny worlds.
But today, thirty-two years have flown by and I’m realizing that the truth was always that daddy’s are just human beings wrapped in the super-hero costumes we handed them when we were small.
Maybe he never wanted to wear it at all, but I had handed him that cape anyways.
But somewhere in the midst of all the trying – the slaying dragons, paying bills, climbing ladders, and raising a family he lost his way. And so today, in just a few short hours, my mom and I will check my super-hero into an alcohol detox and rehab to do our part to help him find his way again.
As I watched him lie in his bed this morning still recovering from the night before, and all the long nights before he’s spent lately, I softly rubbed his back and told him I’d be there. He reached for my hand and looked straight into my eyes without speaking a word.
For the first time, I saw fear and exhaustion in my father’s eyes.
It occurred to me that the irony of life is that those who were so strong for us will inevitably need us to be strong for them too. And while my super-hero of long ago is too afraid and tired to slay his own dragons these days, it is in this time that I get to pull out my sharp sword and fight off the monsters that would steal him away from me.
Honest, it would be easy for me to be angry at my father. But what I’ve come to realize is that anger is only beneficial when directed at the appropriate source. And being angry at my father for being human would in many ways be the equivalent of being angry with a cancer patient for being sick.
And so I’ve just decided – actually made a decision to be angry at the monsters that haunt him, rather than the super-hero who was supposed to slay them.
All know is, I want my dad back. And even when he doesn’t understand, the truth is I can’t leave him like he is because love doesn’t just leave another behind on the battlefield for the dragons to devour.
And so dad, what I want you to know is that we all get scared sometimes. I sure don’t understand everything, but I know you’re tired. I see it in your eyes. And this is your princess giving you permission to drop your heavy sword for a while, heal and rest.
Meanwhile, I’ll be picking it up and fighting for you. I’ll never give up because the One who fights with me has always been so much bigger and powerful than both of us.
And so today, I’ve grown up a bit more and learned the honest truth about superheroes, even my very own girlhood superhero. Truth is, we are all just cape-wearing, flesh and bone human. And it is okay to lose our way, maybe even drop our sword for a time. But we never have to do it alone. We all deserve to have someone fighting for us when life gets dark.