Monday, September 2, 2013


The year is 1998. The place is the choral room at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. My good friend Haylie and I are arguing. It goes something like this:

"Oh yah? Well, my dad's wings are bigger than your dad's."

"Well, my dad can fly higher than yours can."

"Mine can fly faster!"

"Yah? Well my dad's robe is brighter than your dad's. And he sings more angelically."

I know, we were really going at it.

Wait, that's not how you fought with your friends in high school? Huh. Well, that's how Haylie and I coped. My dad had passed away five years earlier and hers just earlier that year. Our heavenly "my dad" quarrels were how we buoyed one another up and helped each other feel a little less alone. How we brought a little bit of laughter into something that might otherwise just make us sad.

Fast forward a few today. Because today it has been twenty years since my dad has been in my life, at least physically. I've done a lot of pondering over the years as to how his absence so early on has affected me and my life. And I can, without hesitation, say the effect has been large. 

I think about him every time one of my friends argues with or says something contrary about their own dads. I think about him each time I watch someone dance with their own dad at their wedding. Or when they talk about how much their kids just love their grandpa. I think about him every time BYU plays (and am a little grateful he's not around every time they lose). I think about him when I drive by a golf course or see the blue leather chair in my brother's house or see an infomercial or visit Lake Merwin. When I hear the word "cardiac" or smell the hand sanitizer in a hospital. I think about him each time I sing the song Mairzy Dotes or call my girls sweet cheeks. And I thought about him a lot this summer when I stayed at my aunt's house and she showed me old photos and told me old stories. 

And sometimes I feel a little sad. Sometimes I feel a little lonely. Sometimes I feel a little empty and wonder what if

But then I remember that just because he's gone, doesn't mean my life is empty. In fact, my life is really quite full. It's just been filled with different things than it otherwise would have been. Twenty years of experiences, people, places, thoughts, hopes and dreams altered just a little because of how that experience changed me. Because it did change me, but it doesn’t define me. I do think about it, but I don’t dwell on it. I do miss him, but I still feel his love.

I often think of this quote by Elder Richard G. Scott. He says, The challenges you face, the growth experiences you encounter, are intended to be temporary scenes played out on the stage of a life of continuing peace and happiness. Sadness, heartache, and disappointment are events in life. It is not intended that they be the substance of life. I do not minimize how hard some of these events can be… but they should not be allowed to become the confining focus of everything you do. Your life can and should be wondrously rewarding. …That perspective keeps challenges confined to their proper place – stepping stones to further growth and attainment.”

And I think he hit it spot on. That Thursday morning twenty years ago permanently changed my perspective on many things in life. But I think it also gave me an advantage. Because really, my dad’s wings are bigger than your dad’s.


Kelli Marshall said...

i love that last picture. you brought me to tears, sister...good tears.

denise shaw said...

well said Nightmare....he would love the new cabin, he would be a jayhawk fan AND he IS eternally proud of his incredible children!

Haley said...

What a beautiful tribute. I'm sure your Dad is more present in your life than you know. Thank you for sharing that quote by Richard G Scott. I need to write that one down, it's beautiful.

Michelle said...

What a sweet post. Just what I needed to hear.

Josh and Laura said...

I love that quote from Elder Scott and I loved this whole post (and the previous post you linked to about your dad's death). I didn't know all of that about you! You are even stronger and more amazing than I already thought you were.

robin marie said...

i love that quote you shared from elder scott. this was a great post.

Amelia said...

This is a great post and those are some great pictures of your Dad! I am sorry and that would be so hard. And that is an amazing quote.