It was the summer of '12 and our first trip to the beach as a family. There had just been a hurricane or tropical storm, something big to make the waters fun/ dangerous all week. Being a new mother, I had avoided going out to the ocean all week long, I was a new MOTHER, I needed to be responsible FOR MY BABY!! Also, it was a great excuse to chicken out on the huge waves. But one day, while K was napping, the urge to ride one of those big ones got to the best of me, and so I went out in those crazy waters with my brothers, sister, and cousins. Let me tell you some things first: 1. I do not surf. Ever. I like to body-board or boogie-board (yes, like a child, but it's super fun, so don't judge me) 2. I specifically remember being out in the ocean boogie/body boarding since before I could touch the bottom of the ocean (don't judge) so, I feel comfortable in the ocean, even when the waves are larger than normal, and 3. My family is highly competitive, like beyond, maybe borderline we need therapy cause we compete against each other so much, but whatevs.
So, I'm watching Matthew, Jennifer, Mark, all my cousins and brothers in laws, and cousin (in laws?) (is that a term? Cousin-in-law? idk) catch these massive waves, riding them all in, and the competitive voice speaks: "you going to just let them catch all the good ones, have all the experience?" And I answered with a resounding NO, plus, I also felt the need to prove myself, that I could CATCH A WAVE TOO. (Side note: that is not a thing, needing to prove I can catch a wave, I've gotten lots of help since then, lol) So, I grab a boogie board, and head out. The first warning for me, should have been that even AFTER the waves had crashed the water was still over my head. No biggie for me, I'm a strong swimmer, I can do this. So I finally make it out to the sand bar, and the perfect wave comes. And about five or so of us take it, but I'm a little bit farther down the beach because the current drew me a little bit a ways from the others. However, I catch the wave too soon, and when it drops, the tip of my boogie board went straight down and so do I, right into the wave, hitting the bottom of the ocean (not fun) and then tumble ashore (scary, and not fun). I come up in time to see the rest of my family had hit their waves perfectly all making it to shore safe and sound with resounding screeches. And as I am badly shaken up, it hits me:
NO ONE saw what happened to me.
My daddy saw me
His eyes still count the children in the ocean. We are all grown, and have children of our own, but my daddy still counts me in the ocean. He saw the whole thing, and I can guarantee you, he was counting the seconds it was taking me to get above water, and He would've been there the second I didn't come up in a timely manner. He never made a big deal about it. He never got out of his chair. But my daddy watched the whole thing happen. He SAW me. I was accounted for. I AM loved.
(Just fyi, I went back out the ocean, caught the next wave and road it in all the way, everyone cheered for me, it felt great)
My friends, my father is a flawed human being, there are some ways he is far from perfect, and there are ways I've had to really work out my faith trying to figure out who GOD is as a father, because He is not like my daddy in ways. However, BECAUSE OF MY FATHER, I know that I am SEEN, ACCOUNTED for, and LOVED. Always, without question, and unconditionally. To my men friends, please know that as a father, you're job is HUGE, you can never be replaced, and you are important. I mean, look at me, this super small event happened four years ago almost to the day, and it will be burned in my memory forever.
I love you daddy.