I remembered at church this morning why it is I do what I do.
The service actually had nothing to do with it. I was unmoved by the sermon.
But I did have a time with Kalista, my daughter. It felt like it had been a while because it had.
One year ago, church on Sunday was a normal thing, part of our weekly routine. She’d wake me up on a day I didn’t have to work – always by entering my sub consciousness with a blanket-carrying sneak attack into my bed at around 7 a.m. – before having had enough by 9, and just shaking me until I responded.
Then I’d lie there, looking up at the ceiling, feeling the fineness of her hair, wishing it’d be 9 a.m. on a Sunday forever.
Sometimes the morning was too much. The scrambled eggs would lure me from church, I reckon. She liked going, but knew missing it meant I had something else in mind for the day that was probably more fun. So she was happy no matter what the verdict.
On days we went – always showing up a couple minutes late – I was at peace. As the trend seemed to be at that point in my life, I knew no one and had no social outings planned that involved more than the two of us. Church was a worthwhile, regular activity that sort of injected us into the community. We had a right to be there, a right to peer into others’ Sunday mornings.
And so it went. And so it passed. In October, we moved to South Carolina, where I took a new job. My parents live in this town. We would always have each other, I thought, and that was the only thing lacking from life in North Carolina. Life’d be good.
However, this job has been taking up more of my time. I’ll always have to attend evening meetings here – I’m no longer strictly a crime reporter – and the new writing style, which now includes government and more feature writing than I ever suspected of myself, has severely increased the amount of time it take me to write.
I haven’t seen Kalista less in the past three months than I ever have.
Now I drive east every other Saturday for visits with her mother. We’ve been staying Saturday nights with Kalista’s family there, which breaks up the drive and gives her quality time with them. But it also takes away 50 percent of my weekends with Kalista, for this is her time to be with them – minus the 10 hours in the car, which hardly counts as quality father-daughter time. I also work one weekend of every four, dropping the total number of weekends I get with Kalista per month to one.
And who the Hell wants to spend an hour at church, all things considered?
We haven’t been going. Today we went. Glad I did.
Because as I watched her lay on across my lap, her back facing up so I could rub it, I remembered all those times. When I struggled to hold her in one arm and my hymnal with the other, I was reminded time never gives a shit about the circumstances – it just keeps going.
I do what I do for these Sundays. I try to make things work that I would have given up on 10 years earlier in my life so we can have these days. And if I don’t watch it, they’ll be gone before I even realized they were there.
Hard times. Yes, indeed. Odds are, I’d be a lot further along career-wise if I weren’t limited to an area I have no ties or significant concerns about. I’d know a lot more about the world and its people if I were able to see them more. But I probably would have drank myself into a stupor of a coma en route, which would have – mildly, at least – crippled this journey.
So who knows.
Kalista’s a reminder to me that this is not what defines a man. Jobs are not life; life is not our occupations. Family, moments are life.
My daughter brings me both – she is why I do what I do, no matter what that may be.