Just like mom, I've had this article in the making for quite a while now, but wasn't quite sure when I was going to submit it. Now that I'm just a few days away from turning 20, I decided that it is the perfect time to remind you just how much you mean to me--over the past 20 years and the many more that will follow.
We've always said how even though I look more like mom, I have every bit of your personality. I have the relaxed, go-with-the-flow attitude that you have. It's amusing to watch mom go nuts over just how relaxed we can be sometimes...but it's just how we are. You've taught me that God has a plan and that everything will work out the way that it's supposed to. Maybe it would be better if we weren't as laid back sometimes, but that wouldn't be any fun.
The support you have provided me is immeasurable. Every birthday or father's day post always includes how "I can't thank you enough for supporting me", and it's more than true. You watched me fall in love with horseback riding (not a cheap sport in the slightest), while there were many questions asked, you signed all the checks and showed up to every horse show. You even played "Horse Show Dad" for a couple of weekends. Even when we joked that "Dad shows up to watch me ride for 15 minutes, then goes back home to watch the game", I always knew you cared. But, the moment where I really knew you cared? Watching the video of my 2017 Medal Finals round, hearing you scream "Yes!" and give a fist-pump after I cleared the last jump. I always knew you were proud of me, but that moment was something I'll cherish forever.
College has been somewhat of a whirlwind for me. Going to an expensive, private university, transferring, packing up all of my things and driving two hours in the opposite direction. Although you didn't show it, I know that the events leading up to transferring were stressful. I know it wasn't only hard on me. You're my dad, of course it's going to be hard watching your daughter struggle with herself. But, you made it very clear that we'd do whatever it took to make sure I got to where I needed to be. I can assure you, without that, I wouldn't have made the progress I have.
This is probably going to be hard to write about, let alone read, so Aunt Susie, Marley, and Mom...get out the tissues.
June 3rd, 2016. One of the worst days of my whole entire life, but also one where I learned a whole lot. Buddy was OUR dog. Max had mom and Marley, but we had Buddy. I remember the many conversations leading up to the last day, but I was never fully prepared--I still wasn't prepared that day (or the weeks after). After our final goodbye, I remember walking up to my room, sobbing uncontrollably. We had been fortunate as a family that I had only a few experiences with death, so I couldn't quite remember everything. This was, obviously, quite different. You walked up the stairs to my room and wrapped me in a hug, crying just as much as I was, and said, "We did the right thing." That was all that needed to be said, and trust me, it made all the difference in the world.
Now, you know I have my wedding planned. You've heard me talk about it nearly a hundred times. Even this past weekend, you witnessed me experiencing a huge dilemma: who will be my flower girl and ring bearer? But, even with everything planned out, nothing is going to prepare me when that day finally comes. Mom has always said she prayed for Marley and me to marry men that were just like you. Marley obviously coming pretty close, but I'm still waiting. There's a reason for that, though. While God may be working hard on the man I'm supposed to be with, I know damn well you won't give me away to just anybody. I know that I will love the man I marry unconditionally; however, you will always be the man that I loved first, and I will forever be your little girl.
You've taught me how to go with the flow, how to be hard-headed, how to love my family and God, and how to properly root for the Tar Heels.
876 words will never do you justice, dad. You're the reason I am the person I am today--I have your personality to prove it. The memories and laughs we've shared will be something that I cherish forever.
You said at Marley's wedding that you hoped she found someone that loves her just as much as you do, and that Larson came "pretty dang close." I'll have you know that no one will ever love you as much as mom, Marley, and I do. No one will ever come close.