We welcome Dave, father of Mercy graduate Heather, as he shares a personal letter to Heather on Father’s Day. Thank you, Dave, for your vulnerability and willingness to share a letter to your daughter about her journey. We are grateful for your heart and wisdom.
The summer of 2011 was a memorable one. You had come home from your first year of teaching in Knoxville. Your brother was getting married, and you were a bridesmaid. I was in the beginning of my two-year countdown toward retirement.
But, you were unable to run in our traditional Father’s Day “Fatherhood 5K” run that summer. Your eating disorder had rendered you too weak to participate that year. Your life was in a downward spiral.
It is said that a parent is only as happy as their saddest child. I believe that to be true.
But two momentous things happened that summer. First, you admitted you needed help, which was a HUGE step in getting you well. Then, God led you to Mercy Multiplied, and there He saved your life! I remember how proud your mom and I were of you because of your diligence in following the application steps, the phone interviews, and then waiting for your acceptance into the California residence. You had to want it bad. And you did. And God led you through this process. And you kept the faith!
We knew that when we left you in California that our only verbal contact with you for six months would be a fifteen minute phone conversation with you each weekend. But, those conversations, along with your letters, told your mom and me something very important. You were getting much more than a physical healing from your addictions. And, we were getting our daughter back!
I remember when mom and I walked in the Mercy Nashville 5K in November (while you were still in California), we walked with some residents of the Nashville Mercy home. They told of their experiences in the residence, their duties and schedules, and their anticipation to return back to their homes where their lives would be so different than when they left. And as they spoke, I could envision you in California, your day-to-day activities, and the excitement of your return home.
Just shy of six months from when you arrived, mom and I were there to attend your graduation. How proud we were of you (and still are)! And our first hours with you confirmed something… You were more than just healed. You were transformed!
A good friend said to me after you arrived home and we were approaching the date to run our first 5K in two years that “it would be great if you two could cross the finish line together.” Well, the starting gun went off, and I saw you disappear like Road Runner. My thoughts of crossing the finish line together suddenly dissipated. But you finished, kept going, and lapped me just as I was ready to cross the finish line. So we crossed it together. Your time was half of mine! Not bad for a young lady who was too weak to make it down the driveway of our home just a year or so earlier!
Well, many a Father’s Day has gone by since then, but they have been much more meaningful, for sure. And now, you’re married to a great guy whom we all love. You have a wonderful job. You’ve kept the faith! The tears are flowing as I write this. They are not tears of sadness, but tears of joy. We are so proud of you and how far you’ve come. And on this Father’s Day, I wanted to write you a letter to tell you that! And remember… Always do good things!
Unconditional love always,