Friday, May 25, 2007

Never Look Down

So it occurred to me while uploading Nicole's college graduation photos to, that she is now only 4 years younger than I was when she first came into my life. When I was 25, never in a million years would I have guessed what my future held!

It was 1990 and I had just turned 29 and she had just turned 8 years-old when I met her dad at Sneaky Pete's on Lake Lewisville on March 9th. However, our first in-person encounter didn't happen until August when I (newly engaged!) attended the family reunion of my future in-laws on the Arkansas River in Ozark, Arkansas. Nicole had ridden down with her grandparents from Kansas, and we drove up from Dallas. The closer we got to our destination, the more my stomach knotted up with nervousness at not just meeting Nicole, but the whole entire clan, for the very first time!

When we arrived, she was playing in the river with her cousins. We walked to the end of the little dock and Roger got her attention. The first words out of her mouth to me was "Hi Mom!". I may have well as just jumped into the river with them all and let it carry me downstream, as at that point I felt I'd just fell completely into the deep end of something much bigger than I.

Over the years Nicole grew up with a determination to be her own person, in charge of her own life. She's gone through many difficult times, some which may have been softened had we been there in Lawrence, but most is what so many kids are faced with today in growing up and then the added aspect of a blended family.

Often times I wanted Nicole to come live with us, mostly out of selfishness! However, I never wanted to put her in a position where she felt she had to choose between two parents. I also knew that her mother was always there for her 100%, making sure she and her little sister not only became responsible adults, but to help them thrive and follow their dreams as well.

As for Nicole and I, it's always been a very easy relationship and never forced. Her first summer in Dallas we chose to put her in a daycare. That only happened once! The summers that followed, I simply took her to work with me if I was unable to get time off. We'd go on sales calls together, or work in the office together, or she'd go to work with her dad until I could come get her. Other times she'd go with me to hang out with my girlfriends and watch us drink margaritas and gab away the time. Weekends we spent our time going to estate sales, with Nicole gradually being able to navigate the MAPSCO around the streets of Dallas. One summer she brought a friend with her from Kansas. Nicole proudly showed her friend around our home pointing out all the items that came from estate sales. At the end of the "tour" she and her friend plopped onto the couch and Nicole very straight forwardly announced, "So really most of this stuff came from dead people's homes". As horrified as I was, I was also extremely amused.

Watching her physically grow I still recall the year that she was big enough to help me carry in a TV credenza and looking over at her and realizing how grown-up, both physically and personally, she was becoming. I also recall the summer that I picked her up from the airport and noticed that her feet could finally touch the floorboard of the car!

One other memory before I wrap up. Nicole was 10 or 11 and we took her to Galveston Beach. One afternoon we decided to take a riverboat-type cruise around Galveston Bay. Like a lot of riverboats, this one had 2 tall decks. Nicole was uncomfortable on the top deck as the height was a little too much for her, and for me as well I'll admit, so we went into the enclosed area of the 1st level and hung out there for a bit. But I soon realized we were the only 2 passengers inside. So I coaxed Nicole back up to the top deck, assuring that I'd be with her and she'd enjoy the cruise. We found a seat in the middle of the boat and I told her to not look down, but instead, focus on the horizon. So there we sat in the beautiful sunshine, both of us looking straight ahead enjoying the view and the gentle breeze blowing our hair and our dresses, never looking down.

Looking back, I realize that had I "looked down" in 1990, it would have been so easy to walk away, but instead I knew that all along God intended for me to focus on the horizon, with that horizon being my future with Roger and Nicole.

To view more pictures from Nicole's graduation, follow the link below and choose "View Pictures", (no need to sign in!), then choose "View as slideshow" from the right-hand column.