I think all parents a gift. They always know when their children are ready to fly. I'm not talking about using an airplane. I'm talking about their wings. See, parents don't know this but every child has a set of wings. They can't see them and neither can you, but I promise you they exist. Children have wings.
Children, more often than not, like to think they know when they’re ready to fly. That isn’t always true, if you heard the story of Icarus at one point or another. Sometimes, kids think they’re ready to fly a lot earlier than they’re really meant to do Other children go their whole lives, growing up into teens and sometimes even adults, without ever realizing they can fly.
Parents? Parents always know when it’s time, even if they don’t see their kids’ wings. They know when their kids are ready to fly. Some parents see it on that last day of high school, when their kids are wearing caps and gowns; they’ve moved their tassels and are ready to go into the world as people. They’re ready to fly and parents have to believe they’re ready.
Other times, it’s that first moment when their little one suits up in football pads and a helmet. They go out onto that field and play their little heart out. Sometimes, they run so fast and so far across that field, trying their very best, that you nearly see them fly.
The hardest time for a parent to realize their kid is ready to fly (at least, I assume from what I’ve been told) is the first day of pre-school. You’re dreading the moment they have to let go of your hand and go off into the world for what very well may be the first time they’ve ever done it by themselves; they aren’t scared, because they don’t even know the meaning of the word fear. They’re ready and, for a moment when they let go of your hand to wave goodbye, you see it. You see their beautiful little wings and you know they’re going to be okay. You know, no matter what happens, they’re ready to fly.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It means you’ve done your job as a parent when your child is ready to face the world without you standing right beside them. Some parents aren’t ready when that time comes and clip their kid’s wings for just a little while, because they get scared when that time comes too soon.
My parents always told me I was the one they didn’t have to worry about. I’d always been ready to face a new challenge. They say I’ve always been independent, wanting to try things on my own, and it was how they knew they’d done a good job. I was ready to walk and they encouraged me to run. When I was ready to fly, they encouraged me to soar.
I was lucky. My parents saw that I was ready and never tried to stop me. Not every parent is like that. Not every child has the luxury of a parent who encourages them to go when they’re ready. Not every child is lucky to have parents that let them go when they’re ready, but make sure they always know they have a place to come home when the world tries to knock them out of the air.
After I lost my dad, I lost faith in myself. I didn’t think I could fly on my own anymore, but my mom never doubted it. She always knew I was ready and never once tried to stop me; she pushed me to keep going because she knew I was her strong girl and I could do it. My parents saw, long before I did, that it was okay to let go and let me fly on my own – though I know they were never too far away if got into trouble.
Because they let me fly, I am outspoken. I am creative, and passionate, and loyal, and intelligent. I graduated high school despite facing a challenge no child should ever face. I overcame every challenge that was put in my path. I graduated college with honors and am moving into adulthood, ready to see what life brings me next.
I couldn’t be where I am today if my parents hadn’t let me soar when they saw I was ready to fly.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. Everything I do, it's because you gave me strength to do it.
Grief is a lot like stepping on a piece of chewing gum.
Sometimes, it's one piece that's not too sticky. It's an inconvenience but one you can live with. On a bad day, you can feel it on the bottom of your shoe when you walk, but it goes away after you've been walking for awhile.
Then, there are days when you feel it every single time you take a step forward. You're constantly aware of its existence. It drives you crazy and eats away at you until you have to confront it. Otherwise, you'll go crazy and no one will understand why.
If you're lucky, there will be days when you can get the gum off your shoe and forget about it until the next time it happens. If you're not, you have to live with it. There's nothing you can do about it, because you can't throw away a good pair of shoes just because you have gum stuck to the bottom.
Yeah... Grief is a lot like that.
We were in the hospital for Daddy's last Thanksgiving with us. It had been a rough week, with him being admitted to the hospital with infected abscesses in his back from the chemotherapy and radiation. The doctors performed two surgeries, one to clean out the infections and the other for his colostomy. Hannah and I spent the first few days of Thanksgiving break bouncing to and from the hospital and football field, because CJ had some games to play in a city-wide league. He'd been handpicked for the team.
Like today, Tulsa was covered in rain. The games were cold and wet, and I'm pretty sure there were a few games that only Hannah and I sat out in the slush to watch. I don't really remember the games CJ played, whether they won or lost, because my mind was elsewhere most of that week.
After the games were over, CJ went to spend Thanksgiving with Daddy's parents. I didn't have to work, because Chick-fil-a was closed for Thanksgiving. Hannah and I went up to St. Francis Hospital as soon as it was open to visitors, because we wanted to spend the holiday with Mom and Daddy.
I had a special surprise for them in 2015 that came in the form of three college acceptance letters: Oral Roberts University, Rogers State University, and Oklahoma Baptist University. They were so proud of me, because I was accepted into every university I applied to. It was a really big moment for me, and I didn't even care that the moment happened in the hospital.
When it came time for a Thanksgiving meal, we weren't quite sure what to do. We all agreed - no hospital food, but that didn't leave very many options. Mom decided to order Cracker Barrel, but only on the condition that Hannah and I went to pick it up. We waited about 15 minutes longer at the hospital, then went to pick up the order on the other side of town.
Hannah and I got to the restaurant, which was packed - duh, it was Thanksgiving. We checked in with the server at the front, gave her Mom's name, and paid for the food. That was when the waiting game began. We waited about 30 minutes before I asked about our food. The server went to check and came back, letting us know that the kitchen lost our food and would be remaking it.
Another 15-30 minutes went by. I talk to the server again, getting frustrated, while Hannah is urging me to tell them about Daddy being in the hospital. Her reasoning? At the very least, it'll make the server feel bad enough to figure out what's going on. I did not tell the server.
Eventually, the server does bring us a bag of food and assures us that everything has been remade. I don't question it, because we've been at Cracker Barrel for over an hour at this point while our dad is in the hospital. We leave, we bicker in the car about the wait, and we get back to the hospital.
(Here's where the story gets REALLY good.)
Hannah and I carry all the food up to Daddy's hospital room. Together, we sort out the food to make sure everything is there. Thankfully, as I am recounting the whole story to my parents - who honestly cannot stop laughing about the whole incident, all the food is there.
The issue was, when we each went to take a bite, the food was ice cold. When the Cracker Barrel server told me that they lost our food and later told me they remade it, what she should've said was something like this. "I'm sorry you've been here over an hour. We lost your food for an hour, found the to-go bag, and decided to give it to you without checking to make sure that it was actually remade."
I can't remember what we did next, if we ate the cold meals we ordered or if Mom called some pizza place, but I do remember us laughing about it. Of course, after everything that went wrong the entire week, our food was ice cold too. It didn't matter, because we were with our parents. Daddy was healing and, honestly, that was all that mattered.
The last Thanksgiving we celebrated with Daddy was when he was in the hospital and it was not a great experience. Every year, about this time, I find myself thinking about that. We had what most people would consider a terrible Thanksgiving, but I never find myself dwelling on that.
What I remember is being grateful that the surgeries were successful, that Daddy was getting better. I remember us laughing about the whole thing and being happy, despite our circumstances. I remember the pride I felt when I shared my acceptance letters with my parents. Most importantly, I remember feeling is love. Unconditional love that could only come from a family, whose hearts are tied together so tight that it didn't matter where we were.
We had a lot of 'lasts' with Daddy between October 2015 and April 2016, even if we didn't know it, and most of those memories bring tears to my eyes even now because it hurts so much. Thanksgiving might be one of those memories, but I am grateful for the memories.
21 years young. Should be writing.