It's time for us to say goodbye.
Nobody wants to. We love him so much, and have so many fond memories. We've fished together and laughed together. We've played cards together and shared so many funny stories. He was the uncle who could drive trains. TRAINS for crying out loud! He took us to his work once, and let me ride and even blow the whistle. I love that guy! He laughed all the time, and usually had a smile on his face, but behind the smile I always sensed a sadness. Something that he was missing.
I knew what it was, but we didn't really talk about it.
It was her, and as we say goodbye, she says hello.
I keep seeing her in my head. Her strawberry blond hair blowing in the breeze as she runs to greet her daddy. Kathleen hasn't seen her daddy since 1974. She was trapped in a body that didn't work right, with a brain that caused her to seize repeatedly. She left that body behind when bell-bottoms were all the rage. Daddy wasn't even 30 yet, and she's been waiting ever since for THIS day. He's finally here!
I remember her tiny features. That skinny little girl that was always a baby, now is free to run to her daddy. RUN! She's free of that body and brain that held her captive. She smiles and laughs and looks him clearly right in the eye and says the words he probably always hoped to hear from her: I love you, Daddy!
Can you picture the smile on his face? It's not the same smile he's tried to put on lately. It's the smile of that young daddy for his baby girl. Watch Clint look at his daughters, and you'll know what I'm talking about. He reaches out to hold her, and looks at his hands. They are no longer the hardened, stiff hands that he's been trying to function with lately. They've been made perfect and whole. As he runs to her, his breath moves freely in his lungs,and his heart pounds out a strong and steady beat. Finally free.
What an incredible gift.
Uncle CJ has been blessed with so many wonderful years with Chuck and Dale and Clint. He's been blessed with the love of parents, wives and friends. (And NIECES and nephews, siblings, co-workers, etc.) We will all miss him so very much, but it's her turn.
Our day will come. Until then, we'll keep a smile in our hearts for them both. We'll do what he did. We'll live THIS day, and look forward to our next day together. We'll love and laugh, and tell his stories until we meet again.