Many parents dread the day when their children fly the coop. Often, it’s a totally different experience with girls as opposed to boys. For those of us “blessed” with daughters, the challenge can seem especially daunting. And if you only have one daughter, letting your little girl venture out into the world on her own is—to say the least—anxiety producing.
Such was the case when our “little” Katie left home back in 2010 for college in California. Neither her mom nor I handled the departure very well. Kanisa went nuts (literally), while I warded off the pangs of loneliness and depression by straightening teeth, cutting grass, and smoking weed (well—two out of the three).
Seriously, though, ever since Katie was born, I’ve prayed protective prayers over her. I wanted some assurance that my little girl would always be in good hands—and that one day, God would bring the perfect soulmate into her life, and they’d live happily ever after. Over the past few years, I started having doubts about whether that was ever going to happen.
With Katie, boyfriend relationships have always been complicated. In the past, she actively sought out guys who had an edge to them—artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and Hollywood types connected to the film and fashion industry. They were all decent dudes at heart, but every guy she dated seemed to be passively rebelling against all the important things her stodgy old dad stood for: a steady paycheck, paid vacation time, and a 401k deferral plan.
Just when all seamed hopeless, however, in steps CJ. Katie and CJ met doing volunteer work at a local LA Farmer’s Market. After the first few dates, we all knew there was something special between them. A good Catholic boy, CJ currently works in the world of private equity, and he values many of the same traits that I deem vital for a spouse: loyalty, dependability, foresight, patience, adaptability, respect, and kindness.
But still, even if CJ were the second coming of Pope Francis, there would still be questions in my mind of whether he was good enough for “Daddy’s little girl.” Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. So, back in June of this year, I went ahead and gave my blessing to CJ to ask for Katie’s hand in marriage. Katie has told me on many occasions that she doesn’t really care for an extravagant wedding ceremony (whew!), but the proposal part in advance better be DARN GOOD!
Hey CJ…the pressure is on. I’m watching you closely.
That’s exactly why I’m flying across the country in the middle of Covid to take part in this surprise proposal extravaganza. Katie’s girlfriends have lured her away for what she thinks is a nice relaxing weekend getaway to San Diego. Meanwhile, CJ has arranged for a hot air balloon ride to whisk the two lovebirds away into the Friday night sunset. Somewhere up close to the heavens and power lines, he’ll pop the question, and I’ll assume Katie will say “yes” and melt in his arms.
Sadly, the only thing that melted away was CJ’s perfectly choreographed plans. People tell me it never rains in San Diego this time of the year. Well, people are wrong. Not only did it rain on Friday, but thunderstorms and lightning moved into the area and washed away the hot air balloon excursion. Give CJ credit, though, he didn’t freak. With some impressive last-minute bobbing and weaving, Katie still wound up at the end of the romantic kerfuffle with a rock on her finger.
Now it’s Saturday, and the surprise fest continues as many of Katie’s and CJ’s closest friends are sneaking into town to celebrate with the newly engaged couple. This is where I step in; dear old Dad secretly flying all the way in from Lexington to share in the intimate moment. As everyone gathers expectantly at her friend’s parents’ home, I’m waiting anxiously, hiding in a back bedroom. I’m wound tighter than a violin string as I prepare to spring into action for the grand reveal.
This is a bittersweet moment for father and daughter. You see, Katie and I have grown so close in these past few years. We’ve had to lean heavily on each other as Kanisa battled her demons. Honestly, I don’t think I could have survived without my daughter at my side. Now I feel selfish having to share her with anybody else. The thought makes me feel guilty and unbearably sad.
Just as waves of melancholy begin to pour over me, I’m reminded about God’s plan for love and marriage. In the Lord’s eyes, marriage should be honored by all. For just as Christ, the bridegroom, loved his bride—the church—so should a husband love his wife unconditionally. Scripture describes it this way: “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
One flesh—the perfect union—joined forever in mind, body, and spirit. How beautiful is that? Isn’t that what I’ve been praying for all along? CJ’s mom, Marita, tells me she’s been praying for the same thing. Immediately, comforting thoughts and feelings of gratitude flood into my mind and heart. It turns out that instead of losing my little girl, we’re all being blessed by another immeasurable gift from God.
Welcome to the family, CJ Faulwell. Take good care of Katie. I’ll be watching you. Now that the secret’s out, you know the rest of the world will be watching you too.