I know that's basically the only picture I've ever put up on here of my dad, but a) it's the only one saved to my computer, and I've never taken the time to go through and get some more scanned on here, and b) I just love it. I love how you can see how much I look like him (I look more like him than Holly or Chelsea ever did/do), I love how handsome he is, I love his smile. It's simply one of my favorite pictures of us ever.
Every year, his birthday starts off with a bit of a weird feeling for me. I'm not quite sure why; I guess it's mostly just the realization that another year has passed and it's been another year that he hasn't been here. I'm not ever really necessarily sad or anything, just in a different, more reflective mood. That probably doesn't even make sense, but just go with it.
Today, though, the Lord was so faithful to fill my day with blessings that made me feel like my daddy was right here with me the entire time. I could just feel him in a way that doesn't happen all too often anymore after this many years.
I received several messages from friends who either remembered that today was his birthday or responded when they saw I posted about it on Instagram (yep, I got Instagram when I got an iPhone) and Facebook. And that made me happy to realize that other people thought about him, too.
Yesterday's worse headache seems to have been a fluke, as I woke up today with improvement again. And I felt like I could hear him whispering, "See, sweet pea? I told you everything's gonna be okay." Sweet Pea was his special nickname for me.
I felt on top of things in French and just had fun, not worrying about mistakes I made or whatever like I often do. The World Religions test wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. And I felt like I could see him grinning with pride at how hard I work and how well college is working out for me. One of my mom's favorite things to remind me is that I could never cease to amaze him with the intelligent things I could say as a little girl. I want to make him proud so very much.
The most vivid, tangible example today, though? After I made up that test, I spent quite a while in the infirmary with the orthopedic doctor there looking at my foot. Because of my previous foot surgery and the fragility of the bones in my right foot, he gave me a brace but wanted me to get an X-ray just to be sure that there wasn't a stress fracture in there. Of course, there is no X-ray machine at the infirmary, so they told me I should/needed to go to this radiology clinic about 10 miles away. I tried calling several of my friends, but none of them answered, and I remembered a conversation I had had with Dr. Steegar this morning. He knew what was going on with my foot and that I'd probably need an X-ray. He told me if I couldn't find a ride to the ER (because I didn't know this radiology clinic existed until the infirmary told me), to call him and he would drive me in the 90 minute break he had between two of his classes. My only other option would have been to have Campus Safety drive me, and they charge $30 a trip, and they wouldn't wait for me which means they would have had to make two trips and cost me $60. "We need to make sure you get taken care of," as he said.
So when I finally got out of the infirmary at almost noon and couldn't get a hold of a friend, I called him. The timing worked out perfectly that I had time to get a quick lunch before his class finished. And then I met him at his office, and he drove me to get the X-ray. He sat and waited with me. He spent what I'm pretty sure was the entirety of his only opportunity to eat lunch today taking me to the doctor. And then he drove me back to my dorm so I didn't have to walk any farther than absolutely necessary. What kind of a professor does that?! An absolute God-send, I tell you. Aside from my Uncle Ed, I can't think of another man that's ever made me feel like a daughter. Dr. Steegar is a prime example of how many incredible educators there are still out there in the world, people like my mom, people who go so far above and beyond what is expected or required of them simply because they just want to help their kids.
And it was in living this out today that I realized that, while my biological father is not with me physically, he lives on in my heart and my spirit. The stories I hear of him make me want to be a better person. I see the kind of father I know he was when I look at men like Dr. Steegar. And I reminded that I don't have my dad, Keith, but the love of a father can be manifest in many different ways. (Side note: Dr. Steegar is also the father of 3 girls, and his wife passed away several years ago.) Because Dr. Steegar may not be my dad, he may be just my professor, but I felt a father's love from him today.
It's people like him, situations and days like this, that keep me aware of just how much greater the Lord's love is for me. I am His princess. He loves me more than my dad ever did or could, and because of Him, I am never alone. He keeps my dad's memory alive in my mind and in my heart. And it's that memory that will keep me searching for the man that will be my husband who will love kids with everything that he has, not just our kids, but also the kids who grew up not ever really knowing what the love of a dad is really about. I believe with everything in me that every boy and every girl should experience this kind of love at some point in their lives because maybe, just maybe, that will be what points them back to the greatest Love of them all.