While You Were Sleeping was my favorite movie for a long time. Not the whole movie. Just three key scenes. I regularly re-watched it, but I’d fast forward to the meet cute between Sandra Bullock and the not-in-a-coma brother who eventually becomes her love interest. Then, I’d skip ahead to where they’re walking outside when they slip on some ice, falling on top of each other and laughing in the “Oh, wait a minute, I love you” sort of way.
After the ice scene, I’d fast forward to the end when non-coma-guy (spoiler alert…but, can you really spoil a movie from 1995?) drops an engagement ring into the train token thing and says, “Lucy, I need to ask you a question” with a perfect slanty smile on his face. Then, you know, he’d propose, they’d movie-kiss, and my heart would flutter with such intensity, I’d start crying the wrong amount of tears. Then, I’d rewind that token scene and play it again and cry even more “maybe she’s actually injured” level tears. And again. TEARS. So many times with so many tears that I would hear my 8-years-younger sister and her friends laughing at me from the other room. But I didn’t care; I just kept rewinding and replaying and rehydrating.
I know exactly why I watched it that way. I didn’t want to watch all the twists and turns and pain that led up to the happy ending. I just wanted to keep my eyes on the happy ending.
Father’s Day always sneaks up on me. Like many others, Father’s Day, for me, is more complicated than picking the perfect Hallmark card. Every year, when I realize Father’s Day is approaching, I get a knot in my stomach and experience a fresh wave of loss, as I am forced to remember the hurt that is hidden just behind the gift it is to be an adoptive daughter to a wonderful father.
The first time I met my dad, I was five – my oldest daughter’s age. He gave me a velveteen rabbit. A peace offering. I threw it on the ground.
He made me eat vegetables I hated and called me out on lying about reading my history homework pages and would only let me talk to my best friend, Little Christy, on the phone for thirty minutes a day on school nights.
But, he also played shark with me in the pool. Not in a hurried or distracted way. In an all-in, hours and hours, come out of the pool wrinkled into a raisin way. He asked me about school and let me talk for as long as I wanted. He asked follow up questions and turned my little hurts into big laughs that took away the sting. When I wanted to talk about my first father, he didn’t shush me or change the subject.
He heard me.
He hurt with me.
He prayed with me.
He stood up for me.
Over and over and over for the past 25 years.
Needing a new dad and meeting a new dad was not easy. Life is so full of pain. It only takes a few seconds of looking up from your distractions to see that. The good news is there is also redemption. There are so many twists and turns in life that end with smiles and token booths.
There was pain in my childhood. But I’ve been adopted. By my dad and by the God of the universe. And, even after the twists and turns still to come, I have the hope of life after death. Life that is free from pain. Life with the Giver of life.
The problem with trying to skip over the pain is that it makes you forget. And when you forget, you don’t do anything about the pain you see in others. I like being happy, but it’s better to be joyful. Remembering daily that I was lost and dead in my striving and sin, but found and adopted by a perfect, loving, holy God takes my temporary good mood and fleeting laughter and anchors it in a deep joy and peace that can’t be shaken. It motivates me to do something about the hurting people around me. Looking at suffering and hope mixed together is what can and should bring a smile to my face.
Truly, hearing the clink of the ring is so much more satisfying when looking at and remembering all the hard things that got Sandra to that point.
Seeing my dad and someday seeing Jesus is sweeter because of the hurts they’ve helped me overcome. I pray I will be able to help others and that someday, not too many years from now, someone will masterfully remake the greatest coma-centered love story of all time.