Tag Archives: Following My Heart

A Father’s Love.

17 Jun

I have always been a daddy’s girl, and that fact hasn’t changed even though I’m no longer a little girl. When I was growing up, my dad was my number one supporter. Though I know that my mom supported and loved me as well, there’s something really special about the relationship between a father and his daughter that can’t be replaced by any other kind of love.

Besides loving and supporting me completely and without hesitation, my dad has taught me practically everything I know about life, love, and what it means to chase my dreams and follow my heart. However, one of the greatest things about my dad is the fact that he understands me. He understands my feelings so well that more often than not I don’t have to say much of anything for him to know how I’m feeling. There’s something really incredible about knowing someone who is connected with you in such a way where you don’t even have to say a word for them to know what you’re trying to say.

I remember one specific memory from Shriner’s after my first intense operation in 2003. I had intense physical therapy at Shriner’s twice a day, and my mom and dad switched off every few weeks in terms of who was staying with me at Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, SC. My dad was unable to be at Shriner’s as much as my mom could, but he was there as much as possible. Anyway, I remember one day right before going to PT. I had to be put into a small wheelchair with my legs strapped down into a bent position. I should also point out that before my intense PT I was in long-leg casts for eight weeks. Therefore, attempting to bend your knees after having your legs completely straight for eight weeks is a kind of pain that I can’t even begin to describe. Anyway, my dad was attempting to strap my legs down, but even before he put the leg plates on the wheelchair in a position where my knees would have to be bent, I started to cry. Not small whimpers, but the kind of sobs that come up out of your chest when you’re scared, in pain, and can hardly breathe. Even though my dad knew that he had to have my knees bent before taking me to PT, he couldn’t do it. I remember looking at him to see the anguish, fear and pain that I was feeling mirrored on his face as well. It was one of the first vivid memories that I have of my dad crying. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, this was a memory that I would come back to in my mind every time I was trying to describe the intense love that my dad has for me. I come back to this memory not because it brought me pain and fear, but because even though it shows my dad’s love for me, it also shows his empathetic nature that I have found within myself over the past few years.

Webster’s dictionary defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection,” which seems fitting since scientists and poets and musicians alike have all been looking for the true definition of love for centuries. As well as teaching me empathy, my dad has also taught me what love truly is. From holding his hand ever since I was a little girl to the recent days of listening to him relearn how to play the guitar, I have known what love is through my dad’s expression of it towards me. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful to have such an amazing father in my life. And even though I am getting older, I know that my dad will always be here to welcome me home into one of his hugs that holds more love than I can even express. So yes, today is Father’s Day, the day that we go out of our way to tell our dads how much they mean to us. However, for me, every day is Father’s Day. No amount of words can express the insane amount of love I have for the man who taught me to follow my heart, no matter what.

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.”

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Two Years Ago…

27 May

Yesterday I went to Salem Academy (the boarding school that I graduated from in 2010) to see the Class of 2012 graduate. I had a few really good friends who were graduating, and graduation is always a great way to see fellow Salem Sisters who have also graduated. My best friend Skidmore, who graduated from Salem in 2009, came to the graduation too, and I loved seeing her.

As I was sitting in the audience watching the Class of 2012 graduate, it surprised me to think that 2 years had already gone by since I was sitting down in the May Dell in a white cap and gown getting ready to embark on a new phase in my life: college. I remember my graduation day so perfectly, as if it was yesterday. I was so excited, and yet I was also incredibly, incredibly sad. I wasn’t ready to leave the one place where I finally had felt like I belonged only to have to start over again. I didn’t want to leave behind the friends I had made or the faculty and staff who had shown me what it meant to truly follow my heart and chase my dreams. And yet, I was excited for what college would bring. I was anxious to be in a new place with all new people who would all be on their own path of self discovery. I was happy to be done with the grueling academics of Salem, but knew in my heart that without them, I wouldn’t have been as prepared for college as I felt at that moment.

As I sat in the May Dell in my cap and gown, looking up at the all girls’ boarding school that was founded before the United States achieved independence, I was proud. I was proud to be part of another group of women who, though leaving Salem, would continue to think back on Salem in the years to come, relishing in the wonderful memories that shaped our lives. On that day 2 years ago, I was happy. I didn’t think that I would cry until I looked up to see my mom crying. However, in that single moment, all the sadness of what I was leaving behind hit me. But as I shaded my eyes from the sun and listened to girls from my class speak about their fond memories of this place, I let the tears fall. I cried knowing that the young women who stood around me would always be in my heart, even though we were all about to head off to colleges at far ends of the country, and even far ends of the world. And at the end of that day, I left Salem knowing that I’d be back to visit and that I had made some of the best memories and friends that I could have ever imagined.

When the graduation of the Class of 2012 was over, I felt a strange sense of deja vu. It took me a moment to realize that it wasn’t my graduation day, but the graduation of a class that I first got to know as freshmen during my first year at Salem, my junior year. Though it felt sad to see them leave the place that will always be home for me in my heart, I’m happy to know that one of my friends from the Class of 2012 will be heading to Asheville in the fall. It will be so exciting to have a fellow Salem Sister with me once again. Someone to explore Asheville with and talk about Salem with, and most of all, someone to create new memories with, even though both of us know that the memories that will forever bind us are those that were created in a place in North Carolina that I was able to call home for 2 years of my life. However, with my friend coming to UNCA in the fall, it’s as if something incredible has happened: Salem has become both my past and my present.