In the last four months my father died and the relationship I was in ended. I was left a broken man and had only enough strength to beg God for answers. Slowly I began to pick myself up and dust myself off. The kicker of it all was that I became broken without my knowledge. Life was so hectic after my father’s passing that I couldn’t sit down and process it all. Now that my days are settling down again, I’m beginning to notice the holes left in my life. I miss my dad everyday I can’t speak to him. But I miss something else. Something other than the relationship.
Don’t get me wrong. The loss of the relationship was harder on me than anything I’ve ever experienced, even harder than my father’s passing. I know what you’re probably thinking but unless you’ve lived my life, you’re going to have to trust me on this.
I could pretend to be muy macho and write as if it hadn’t affected me, but I’d only be lying. When the break-up was a fresh wound, I couldn’t do anything. I was always crying and my nose was consistently buried in a tissue. I spent days pleading with God and begging Him to show me a glimpse of what this was all for.
These days when I cry it’s because of the loss of what I wanted in this life; a little family of my own. The funny thing is I didn’t even know I wanted it until I had it.
So let me tell you about little miss Lola.
She became the light and source of so much happiness in my life. Who could have known that someone so small would change my world? When I first met this tiny 1 year old, it took time to build trust with her but I was more than willing to be patient. I remember the exact moment when her favor started tilting towards me.
Around her second birthday, Lola was obsessed with Peppa Pig. Her family had been searching for a stuffed Peppa for months and were unsuccessful. So I made it my personal goal to find it, buy it, and be the hero for a day.
Each day I’d wake up, go about my morning routine, and log on to the Toys “R” Us website and search the availability on this British pig. After a few days of this, I came up short. There were none around for at least three states. She couldn’t even be purchased online! Pig pandemonium had set in.
Amazon was no help either. When I finally found the Peppa I liked, I bought her and waited two months until I was forced to cancel my order. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only customer left dangling. The “failure to deliver” reviews kept rolling in from others like me who were desperate to get this pig into some kid’s hands.
Where the heck was I going to find this doll? Every toy store I searched was out of stock and the Internet had failed me. I figured I’d give Toys “R” Us one more shot.
I woke up one day, went about my usual routine, and made it to work before logging on to the toy store’s website for one last look.
They have it.
I typed and clicked faster than I ever have in my life. My credit card information was in the proper fields and I hit submit.
Was this it? Did I really just pull this off?
“Order submitted. Confirmation #123YESSSS”
Oh man! I was over the moon! My order would be waiting for me at the store. As soon as the workday was done, I drove my little Mazda as fast as I could and made my way through those giraffe plastered doors. I punched in my order number and the most handsome Toys “R” Us employee made his way from the back with precious Peppa Pig.
I grabbed it from his hands and couldn’t help but smile thinking about how happy Lola would be when she saw it. The truth is the reality was so much better than what I had imagined.
Sitting in her Great-aunt’s apartment, Lola was doing her typical avoidance act. I was used to it and couldn’t wait to pull the ace from my sleeve. Her mother shot me a beautiful smile and called her over.
“Come here, Lo. Eric has something for you.”
Sitting on the couch in front of her, I pulled Peppa from behind my back.
I will never forget Lola’s face when she saw it. The pure happiness and joy that came through her tiny features made my heart melt. I never knew a little girl could smile so big. Her little body raced with the excitement of having her own Peppa Pig. She never let it go after that day. Peppa came with us everywhere we went.
“Give Eric a hug and say thank you,” her momma said.
I never felt a stronger hug in my life. From that moment on, Lola would be forever etched in my heart.
Retelling that story, I see it with different eyes now. I don’t remember half the times my dad gave me gifts. I can’t even remember what they all were. But I know now the amount of love that went into some of them. The pay off wasn’t buying the gift I wanted, it was seeing the happiness in my face and knowing he had a part in making that happen.
Even in death my dad is teaching me things. And though I’m crying while typing this sentence, they are tears of sadness brought on by so much love.
I miss Lola and her mom, Tina, very much and think about them everyday. Who knows if we’ll get back together? Still, I will always be grateful for the lesson Lola helped teach me that fantastic afternoon. It’s the day I truly realized I wanted to be a father.