collecting hearts

This was written nine years ago after some wrestling in that darkness of a 4 a.m. wakeup call. Someone once told me that God often wakes you up at that hour to pray because it is the most quiet hour in the world—less violence, less activity. I don’t know if I buy that because God handles everything outside the constraints of time. I’m the one that gets on overload so I think it might be because my mind is the most still to go to those places where He leads and He brings gifts of sweet thoughts and prayers to mind. Tonight, because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (headache ) I will share this oldie in my journal. I’m off for a long, hot soak in the tub and an early to-bed.
Spring, 1998.

I nudged Mike for the third time. “Go dance with the girls.” He quipped back, “I will.” As he moved across the floor to ask our older daughter Lauren, she gave him a “not a chance” look and turned away. So, he took his offer to our younger daughter, Lindsay. She accepted, and just as quickly, swept me away into a rush of memories, sweetness, and loss.

As I watched, I thought about what I would have given to have just one dance with my daddy. “Are you okay?” Mike quickly brought me back to this lifetime. Like others who loved me before, he couldn’t stand to see me with tears in my eyes. So, I took the cue, and turned it off.

Next opportunity for resolution—the now familiar and comfortable 4 a.m. Darkness seems the perfect hidden stage for sorting raw, unfinished emotions and making sense out of random memories.

The first dance that I knew I missed was when I was fourteen. There was the annual father-daughter dance in my Home Economics class. The girls all wore formals, and their dads were their attentive escorts. “No, I can’t make it.” I apologized, adding some lie to make the excuse sound legitimate. It had been two of the longest years since my dad had died, but this was the first time I had to deal with something concrete about it.

My next recollection of missing my dance with Daddy was the day after our wedding. I overheard Mike’s dad in the hallway tell him, “You know who I wished were here more than anything? Your grandma. She would have loved yesterday!” His eyes were reddened with tears as he entered the den. Why did he have to say that? How hard I had tried to avoid the longing that my dad could have been the one to walk me down the aisle and ask his daughter for the traditional dance at the reception.

I rarely remember my dad talking to me that much, much less bringing something special home for me. When he did, it always seemed so tender, yet somewhat awkward. When I was five or six, I remember him bringing my sister and me home some pink blankets for our pink bedspreads, in our pink room. I always hated pink, but I loved our pink blankets. They were from Daddy.

I also loved my pink robe. When I was twelve, I remember coming home from school certain I had caught my mother up to something. “Just a minute.” What seemed like a good five minutes later, the front door to the house sprang open, and I saw my parents in the giggliest of moods—the only time I ever remember noticing how much fun they had together. A few days later, my mother surprised us with quilted robes she had sewn for us. Mine was pink and my sister’s was purple. I was most happy the pink one was mine—it was always my mother’s favorite color.

“Do you collect hearts?” My friend, Gina asked me as we squished past each other in the tiny gift shop. She and I share February birthdays, and she went on to tell me that was probably why she had always loved and collected hearts. “No, I don’t collect anything,” I dismissed her wondering. “My mother always used to make me a pink heart birthday cake,” I added to not make my answer seem so curt. I had always secretly wanted chocolate, but the pink meant it was her heart she was offering. Why had I never considered collecting hearts? Something so obvious. In a real sense, that is what memories are—collecting pieces of my heart. So, maybe I do collect hearts. Just real ones.

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6 thoughts on “collecting hearts

  1. Annie,
    Very touching. I still miss my dad too. You do have a gift for writing. And as someone told me, “When the Lord puts something on the inside of you it can never die. We can always resurrect it. He is a God of life.” I look forward to reading your book.
    Blessings in Christ–

  2. You’re sweet to ask. I am good–can’t wait to have all three chicks (sorry Greg) back in the nest.
    Starting tomorrow we’ll celebrate two birthdays, play a little for a week, and get three kids, two pets, and tons of stuff back to their respective schools in three cities. Life is good!

  3. Can you spell Encourager with all CAPS–you define the word, my friend. And you make me think. I promise to put this again before the Lord, and look for His signs of moving forward. Bless you.

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