c`The annual Father Daughter Dance. Tickets are unimaginably expensive—one hundred dollars per ticket, I believe—so Mom didn’t want to spend the money until I was old enough to truly enjoy and remember it. The age range begins at seven and cuts off at sixteen and it wasn’t until about a week before my sixteenth birthday that my parents finally agreed that it was time my father and I spent some time together. It’s clear that lately, my father has been cracking under the pressure of having a child with cancer, so that was likely the reason.
My dress is short. It cuts off just above my knees. It’s silky and soft. It’s a simple white, but even so, it’s magnificently elegant. My hair is neatly curled with one braid lining each side.
I look gorgeous, if I do say so myself, but there is one issue that’s definitely putting a damper on the event. I’m wheelchair-bound. I recovered from my recent surgery enough that I can attend the Father Daughter Dance but I’m prohibited from walking on my own two legs. I worry that it’ll defeat the whole purpose, as this is supposed to relieve some of my father’s fears about my diagnosis.
But when my father sees me, he starts tearing up, which makes me start to tear up.
We spend most of the time lingering on the sidelines as he didn’t want me to accidentally run down a little kid. I can’t blame him. But towards the end of the party, the energy dims and the dance floor calms. No one knows the song that’s playing except for Dad and me. We look at each other and share a knowing grin. We recognize the song, “Time” from Tuck Everlasting. Ellie performed it in her school production back in fifth grade and she’d been blasting the cast recording for weeks on end leading up to the performance.
“You know what?” Dad says, setting down his cup and wiping his face.
I laugh, assuming he’s joking. I wait for him to join in my laughter but he doesn’t. “I can’t, Dad. You know that.”
Dad shakes his head. “I’ll be the judge of that.”
I raise my eyebrows as he leads me to the center of the dance floor. He takes hold of the handles and dances with me as if he’s simply holding my hands rather than my wheelchair handles. Soon, all the fathers and daughters assemble in a circle around us.
As he looks lovingly into my eyes, I realize that he finally accepts it. Of course, he can never be okay with my condition; I can’t either, but he’s there for me, no matter what.
And I know he always will be.