One evening as my 13 year old daughter and I were getting into the car to run some errands, she dropped her phone on the pavement. We both let out audible gasps as we heard it hit the ground. My daughter retrieved her phone and a look of panic consumed her face.
“My screen is broken!” She screamed in horror. She flipped her phone around to show me the damage. Her screen was badly cracked. It looked like spider had built an intricate web across the surface of her phone.
“Does the phone still work?” I asked.
She plopped down into the passenger seat and checked the functionality.
“It still works,” she said. “But look at it. I can hardly see the screen through the cracks.” As she spoke, her eyes welled up and tears started rolling down her face. Pretty soon she was sobbing uncontrollably. I leaned over and placed my arm across her shoulder to comfort her.
“It’s okay,” I said. “These things happen.”
She composed herself for a minute, looked intently into my eyes, and asked, “Will you get me a new phone?”
“Sorry, sweetheart,” I said. “But I can’t do that right now.” She was in the middle of her contract and buying a new phone simply wasn’t in the budget. She lowered her head and started crying again. I pulled her close to me and placed her head on my shoulder. What she said next caught my attention.
“You’re supposed to make everything right,” she said with a slight whisper. “You’re my dad.”
I felt myself tense up as her words lingered over my head and slowly settled with their full weight on my shoulders.
I’ve spent her lifetime doing my best to make everything right. It started on the day she was born. After my wife and I had spent about 15 hours in the hospital, the doctor realized that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my daughter’s neck threatening to strangle her. While comforting my wife, I urged the doctor to do something immediately to save my baby. There was a mad dash to get my wife into the operating room to have an emergency C-section. Everything turned out well until the doctor confused my daughter with another baby. I stepped in to sort things out and claim my daughter. My love and protection has continued to cover her from that moment on.
When she had nightmares, I comforted her by singing lullabies and sleeping on the floor next to her bed.
When she fell down and skinned her knees, I kissed her boo-boos and applied band-aids.
When other girls were mean to her at school, I consoled her and gave her tools to cope with the situation.
When she was afraid of new situations, I held her hand and walked beside her until she had the courage to walk alone.
There are countless other examples when she turned to me to make everything right. What frightens me are the times when I won’t be able to make everything right. She will have hurts that I can’t heal, problems I can’t solve, questions I can’t answer. I worry about the day when the veil is lifted and she discovers that I’m more like Clark Kent and less like Superman.
As I sat in the car with my daughter lamenting the loss of her phone, I decided not to dwell on my limitations or focus on things that were out of my control. Although my daughter is starting to pull away and seek her independence, this unguarded moment proved the she still needs me, and as long as she needs me, I’ll be there for her.
Later that night, I found one of my old cell phones. Although it showed signs of wear, it was newer and in better shape than her phone. I placed her SIM card into the phone and charged the battery. The next morning, I updated all of her info and presented her with her “new” phone.
Her face beamed as a giant smile stretched from ear to ear.
“Thank you, Daddy!” she said as she rushed in to hug me.
I was a hero in her eyes because I was able to fix this minor crisis. It felt good to know that she still places her trust in her dad. Although I’m fully aware that I can’t always make everything right, the joy that I saw on her face is all the motivation I need to always try.