It is my favorite word.  To hear anyone of my three daughters call me “Daddy” is a delight, even when it is to register a complaint or voice frustration.  There is an innate tenderness to the term that I never want to go away.  I have never heard my daughters call me dad or father, although I’m guessing they use those terms whenever referring to me with their friends or teachers.   

I am assuming at some point I called my own father, “Daddy.” But I was so young when he left that I do not have a specific memory of it.

For years, I struggled with the idea that someone could walk away from their child. The idea that one could hear the word, “Daddy” and still leave seems unfathomable.  

Other children experience the loss of a father not by his choice but by other life circumstances, often beyond anyone’s control, chief amongst them death.  The cause is different, the hole the same.

I recently discovered this Coldplay video of their song, “Daddy.”  It is simultaneously sweet and heartbreaking.  An animated little girl is adrift in a boat calling, “Daddy, are you out there?”  Pleading with him to come back while trying to convince him and herself that “everything is ok.”  

One line,“I know you’re hurting too”, speaks volumes as it recognizes that as much as we try to be strong for our children, fathers still carry our own burdens and demons that even the most tender of words, “Daddy,” can’t always make go away.

If you watch this video and I encourage you to, please take an extra minute to scroll down and read the comments. It is an outpouring of emotion, as people reflect on their own Daddies, in what by my count was at least six languages. It is a reminder of how central our presence is in our children’s lives and how gaping the hole left by our absence. 

As a child and throughout most of my life, the word “Daddy” evoked sadness, insecurity, confusion and anger.

Today it is the opposite. To hear “Daddy” is to bring joy, security, certainty and peace, not just to me but hopefully to those three little girls who say it. 

May that be the case for as long as I live… and even when I’m gone.

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