Father’s Day holds a special day in my heart. When I was a child, I would attend church on Father’s day, and listen to stories about my Heavenly Father, and how he sacrificed his only Son for us. This meant a great deal to me! I tried to imagine how difficult that must have been for Him to do, taking into consideration the love my own Father and I shared. After church, we would go home and celebrate with my dad and I remember being so thankful for him, he was a good provider and a loving father. He taught me so many things throughout my life, and he is still there for me now.
When I learned that Kristi was pregnant with our first child, my head spun! I was looking forward to being a father, but I was also a little scared, knowing the responsibility that came with the title. When Bryci was born, Father’s Day took on a whole new meaning for me. This tiny little girl all of a sudden became my whole world, I wanted to be there for her, teach her things, share my love of Christ with her and help her experience all the things I loved as a child. I was elated.
I remember coming home one day with a bag of groceries in each arm to find a 2 year old Bryci standing at the top of the 6 stairs that led up to our bedrooms. She was so happy to see me, she yelled out “Daddy catch!” and leapt into the air. Without a thought, I dropped the grocery bags and as I had done so many times before, I caught her and twirled her around. She giggled and hugged me around the neck, “I love you so much daddy!” At that moment, I realized that being a father meant that I am always supposed to be there for my children. I know that when she jumped, she had complete faith that I would catch her.
Bryci has always been in the “air” before I knew what she was doing so to speak. She was a lesson in love and patience to this young father. The words “don’t panic” began to be a normal part of my days. That is another aspect of being a father that you don’t really think about until you are living that role. There were many hours spent running beside her bike with no training wheels, and taking scary rides in cars while she was learning how to drive her first car, (don’t panic) which was a standard. Her headstrong ways started appearing at a young age, and with determination, she conquered these stages in life without ever giving up.
One evening as Kristi and I were eating dinner, we received a phone call from the Chaplin at the hospital. “Your daughter Bryci is here, she has been in a terrible car accident, she is in bad shape. Please come now.” My heart stopped. My world quit turning. In a twirling daze I told Kristi what he said and tried to help her find a matching pair of shoes and a jacket so we could go. Don’t panic I kept telling myself, just don’t panic. She was lying in the hospital bed, her bloody clothes, now cut to pieces, lay in a heap on the floor. She looked so tiny, so frail, it was so much to handle. It was then that I realized how bad it can hurt to be a father. I would have traded places with her in a minute if I could. I would have sacrificed my life for hers. She recovered from the accident, thankfully, we were told by the Sheriff that she rolled a total of 11 times. 6 sideways, and 5 end over end. I silently thanked God for seatbelts and the cowboy with OnStar that saved her life.
The day Bryci introduced me to Matt Achter, I could tell she was already “in the air”. There was a look in her hazel eyes that could be one thing, love. Time went by, their relationship bloomed and on a cool afternoon, Matt came by to talk to Kristi and I by himself. He asked for Bryci’s hand in marriage. Again I found myself repeating my “don’t panic” mantra to myself. This was yet another facet of being a father. Entrusting another human being with your child’s heart, it felt confusing. I have lived life to its fullest, I have been called a daredevil, and I have done things that many people fear. That being said, giving Bryci’s hand to Matt was one of the hardest/scariest things I have ever done. Even though Matt is one of the finest young men I have had the pleasure of knowing, I teared up as I wondered if I would ever have to drop the groceries again.
Being a father comes with a lot of responsibility. It radiates emotions of happiness, pride, fear, sorrow, concern and so many more. As I watched Bryci and Matt board their plane back in April, I knew that she was once again in the air, and this time, it would be Matt who catches her. It would be the two of them flying solo, living their dreams and experiencing the world in ways many of us never will. On this Father’s Day I miss my daughter, and the funny card she would have given me if she would have been here. I respect her decision to travel and I hope I have instilled the proper tools she needs to continue on her amazing journey.0