The best part

Many people have asked me what the best part of our Make A Wish vacation was. I jokingly answer that it was when Belle complimented me on how I did Namine’s hair.

Putting all jokes and kidding aside, I want to tell you of the memory I treasure most. It wasn’t at Sea World, Disney World, Gatorland, or Clearwater Marine Aquarium. It was at Give Kids The World. They had shown the movie Home in the small movie theater that they had at the resort. Namine and I were the only ones who attended.

It wasn’t the first time we saw the movie — we’d seen it, all three of us, in the theater back home, as well as rented it from Redbox when it first came to DVD. There would have been nothing special about this, either, but for Namine holding my hand through the movie. While special, even that is not the best part.

The movie ended, and Namine and I clapped. It’s typical for Namine to want to sit through the credits, listening to the music. She tapped me on the arm. “Daddy, let’s dance!”

The first song that played was high-energy; Namine and I bounced and danced, leaving us both exhausted by the song’s end. Then the next song came on, a slow and emotional song. It’s the kind that Namine would often ask me to skip, or in this case, leave the theater because it held nothing exciting for her. Not this time.

Namine reaffirmed her grip around my neck, hugging me tighter. We eased into a slow rhythm. Holding my wonderful daughter in my arms, we danced large circles around the empty room. Whatever troubles we’d left behind in difficult months and hard years; whatever trials still lay ahead; none of that mattered. The moment was ours. It was ours forever.

The song ended, as songs do. As I put Namine down in her wheelchair, she smiled up at me. “Thank you for the dance, Daddy.”

For me, the best part of vacation was not the resort. It was not the many theme parks, exotic animals, or ziplining. No, the best part was getting to hold my daughter in my arms: just the two of us, dancing slowly and singing softly. The best part was seeing the magic in Namine’s eyes. It was not the pretend magic of theme parks, of rides and people in costumes, but the real magic of a daughter’s love.

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