Tonight I went on a date with someone other than my wife for the first time in eight years.
|My beautiful date for the evening.|
A week or so ago, Mary told me about a fundraiser for the
volleyball team that
piqued my interest. The team, which is funded by donations due to budget
cutbacks a few years ago, was going to host a Daddy/Daughter Dance, combining
two of my favorite things – sports and Grace. Litchfield Middle School
We weren’t entirely sure if we would be able to go or not, since we were scheduled to be in
earlier that day for the Southern Illinois Editorial Association awards, but we
told Trish Fenton, one of the organizers, that we were going to try.
|Sharing a dance with my favorite girl.|
Yesterday, Trish checked with Mary to see if we were going to be able to make it because the volleyball team had something special for Grace. I think Mary and I both assumed that it would be a volleyball or a T-shirt or a stuffed animal of some sort. It wasn’t.
We got there a little before seven and the Litchfield Moose Lodge was packed with little girls and their daddies. It kind of reminded me of a junior high dance, with the girls on the dance floor and a ring of guys just watching from the periphery.
|Time for a "selfie!" Thanks to Mary for taking it . . . .|
It also reminded me that crowds kind of freak me out sometimes so we slunk to the back part of the hall, where it was a little less packed. After making a donation and grabbing a quick photo at the “selfie stand”, we were retrieved from the back by Trish’s husband John. They wanted us up front.
|The official coronation by Trish Fenton and some of the volleyball team.|
After the current song ended, Trish asked Grace and I to come up on stage, where she bestowed the honor of queen on Grace. That wasn’t all though. Three of the team members gave my little girl a bouquet of flowers, a sash that said “Queen Grace” and a tiara fit for royalty.
|All hail, Queen Grace!|
It had already been a little dusty, just watching all of the daughters dancing with their dads, little shoes carefully atop big ones, but Grace’s “coronation” about sent me over the edge.
|Grace got a little love from her fan club.|
The rest of the night was just flooded with emotion. Love – for not just Grace, but for Mary, who accompanied us on the date, because somehow the DJ just happened to play two songs from our wedding slideshow. Joy – for everyone that made this night possible. And hate. I hated the fact that Grace might never get the opportunity to go to her high school prom. I hated the fact that I might not get to have a daddy/daughter dance at her wedding. I hated the fact that this little girl who has brought so much love and joy to our community has been dealt this awful hand of fate.
I’m never going to give up hope that someday Grace might be cured of INAD, but it’s not always easy to shake off the thoughts that come with the possibility that cure may never come. The worst was when I took Grace onto the dance floor while LeAnn Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” was playing. It’s the song my mom and I danced to at my wedding, partly because it’s a great song, mainly because it wasn’t very lengthy. Regardless, it holds special meaning, even more so now.
|Family photo op with the new queen.|
Tonight was a night I won’t forget, however the next few years play out. I can’t tell you how much the kindness of Trish Fenton, Jessica Krager and all of those involved with tonight’s event meant to Mary and I.
|A date with the best little girl in the world.|
As special as everything was at the dance, the best part may have been when we got home, just before Mary started reading to Grace and putting her to bed. I got what every guy wants after a date – a goodnight kiss from the most beautiful girl in the world.