|Their goodbye-for-now hug.|
I am a HUGE fan of Chick-fil-a, having been introduced to its magical goodness nearly ten years ago by my dear friend Ang. I couldn't believe such a treasure could be found at a mall food court, but it was true and life changing, and nothing (including my cholesterol) has been the same since that fateful lunch date.
When Mark and I moved to TN, we were totally stoked (OK, I was totally stoked) to live within a mile or so of a Chick-fil-a. (We also now celebrate the joy of a local Sonic as well, but let's stay focused.) This Chick-fil-a has been the sight of many play dates with friends, school spirit nights, and the occasional celebratory cookies and cream milkshake. We love it there. I've actually asked for the manager before to tell her how much we love their restaurant and staff.
This morning after dropping the boys off at school and before a doctor appointment, I drove through Chick-fil-a to partake in my not-so-secret pleasure - a three count chicken mini combo with a Dr. Pepper (for a good laugh, click here to read about my embarrassing slip up at another Chick-fil-a.) As I greeted the friendly cashier at the drive through window, my eyes fell on a sign posted in their window. It was advertising a "Father/Daughter Night" at Chick-fil-a. On Sept. 18, they are transforming the restaurant into a fancy sit down place, with wait staff serving fathers and daughters at beautifully decorated tables, complete with a professional photographer to take pictures of each pair as they enjoy special daddy/daughter time. There will be music and flowers and candles.
And I just cried. Right there at the drive through window.
I cried for our beautiful daughter who has probably never experienced the safe and protective love of a father...until now. I cried for my husband who already cringes at the thought of walking his daughter down the aisle. I cried for the moments of laughter I saw those two share this summer. I cried because I almost forget what her voice sounds like when she teases, "Daaaaaaaaaddy!". I cried because, God willing, this time next year Mark and Inessa/Elsie Kate will be planning a special night out at Chick-fil-a.
People ask how we can stand to be away from Inessa/Elsie Kate for these months. It is not easy. Mark and I are not the weep and gnash our teeth in public kind folks, so we smile and laugh and ask people to pray for our family. But this girl is never far from any of our minds - not me, nor her brothers who adore her, nor her daddy who thinks she is precious and amazing. Sometimes all it takes is a poster at the Chick-fil-a drive through to remind us of what we are missing...and what we are looking forward to.