My daughter bounded into the room. “Dad?”
I looked up from my computer.
“Stef and I are going to the mall to see if we can find a dress for graduation.”
“Okay, but call me when you get there.”
She sighed. “You are such a worrywart. I’m graduating in two weeks and you still treat me like a baby.”
I held up my hands in surrender. “Sorry, Sweetie, you’ll always be my little girl.”
As she spun around, I yelled at her retreating back. “Call me!”
“Fine!” I could almost hear her eyes roll into the back of her head as she muttered, “Fathers!”
Fifteen minutes later, the rumbling of thunder sent chills racing down my back. Licking my lips, I kept glancing at the phone.
Ring, ring. I jumped up and snatched the phone from the cradle, praying silently that she was safe.
As I held the phone to my ear, I heard sobbing. Ker-thump! Ker-thump! My heart kicked into overdrive. “Natalie, are you alright?”
In between hiccups, I heard her say, “Daddy? I think something’s wrong with the car.”
Closing my eyes, I breathed a sigh of relief. "It’s okay, honey, tell me what happened.”
“Well, after a downpour, I drove through a huge puddle and now it is making an awful noise.” She explained.
“What kind of sound is it making, Sweetie?”
“Well, kinda a thump, thump, grrrr sound.” She lowered her voice. “And, Daddy, it’s an angry grrr.”
I grabbed my keys and headed out. It didn’t take long to find her on the shoulder of the road with her flashers on.
I looked under the hood, no odd sound there. I walked around the car, knelt, and looked at the wheels; everything looked fine. Finally, I laid on my back and stuck my head under the car. There, stuck to the frame of the car, was a stick. I yanked it off.
I walked to her window. “Sweetie, I found your problem. I think you’re good to go!”
She smiled and batted her eyelashes. “My hero!”
As I watched her pull away, I realized that I enjoyed being her hero.
Two weeks later, she waltzed into the kitchen in her graduation dress. “Dad, where’s the Advil? I feel like there are drums beating in my head. I’m so nervous, but so excited!”
I glanced up from the paper I was reading. “Sweetie, you look just like your mom standing there. I wish she could’ve been here today.”
She clasped my shoulder and squeezed. “Yeah, days like today are bittersweet without her.”
At graduation, I sat with other proud parents in the bleachers watching the class of 2013 file into the auditorium.
I looked Natalie’s way and noticed her resting her head against her hand. I thought to myself. “Poor baby must still have her headache."
Finally, the future graduates lined near the stage. As their names were called, they stepped forward to accept their diploma.
As Natalie waited, I noticed her pale face, and the wisps of hair around her face were wet with perspiration.
Suddenly, everyone gasped as she fell to the floor with a thump.
I vaulted to my feet, my heart jack-hammering against my chest. As I raced toward the stage, I didn’t notice the people I tripped over. I just knew I had to get to my little girl.
As if in a tunnel, I heard them broadcast, “We need a medic!”
I watched helplessly as they worked on her and then loaded her onto a stretcher.
At the hospital, I sat beside her bed. I could hear the thump, thump, swoosh of the heart monitor.
She stirred. “Wh-wh-where am I?”
I squeezed her hand. “It’s alright, sweetie, I’m here. You passed out at graduation. You’re in the hospital.”
She groaned. “No! Tell me I didn’t really do that!”
“The doctors did a bunch of tests and say that you probably fainted because of your migraine.”
She buried her face in her hands. “Ugh, how am I ever gonna face my friends again?”
Without a smile, I said, “How am I ever gonna be able to buy watermelon again? Every time I thump one to see if it’s ripe, I’m gonna have flashbacks of your head hitting the stage floor!”
She chuckled and groaned simultaneously.
I stroked her cheek with my index finger. “How about we just remember the beautiful sound of your heart monitor, and the gift of life God has given us.”
With a nod, she agreed. “Deal.”
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