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Here is the picture of my 9-year-old daughter running up to me in reckless abandoned excitement just to see me on a normal day. Below the picture is a stream of consciousness writing that I posted on Facebook tonight after looking at the picture, and feeling how lucky I am to be the recipient of such love.
The Family Argument That I Love to Lose
The accompanying picture illustrates the very essence of this essay about the wonderful life that I live.
The absolute best moment in my life is replayed day after day after day. I come home from work, a tedious job that helps pay the bills, and I get to hear this shriek of excitement, followed by my favorite word: "Dadddddyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!" And then my little girl comes running to me, just as you see in this picture. Running to me, so happy to see me, so excited! And she had just seen me this morning. But it never stops, day after day after day. Can you imagine how lucky I am? Now, multiply it by three, as I have two more kids who love me like this. And then throw in some whipped cream with the cherry on top, as I have a wonderful wife who really appreciates me every single day, who loves me, and who I love back.
Our family's biggest argument every single day is who loves whom the most. Our love has been to the moon and back countless times, soaring through the universe and beyond, going off to stars that we cannot name and usually can't even see here in the Chicago night sky. And whoever proclaimed their love to be that strong, that powerful, that it can transcend our very universe... well, it's not enough. Casey will say "All that and a thousand times more." And then Elle will say "a thousand times more, plus infinity." But Casey, just 6 years old, he knows that word "infinity" and he can one-up Elle with his comeback: "All that, plus infinity... and beyond!"
This is what this picture of Mia running up to me at her elementary school makes me think of. What an incredibly lucky guy I am. As much as I love my wife and my kids, that argument is one I can never win, and I'm so lucky to lose at that.
Of course, my kids don't know all that much about my life before they came into it. They don't know all the wrong turns I had taken in life, the mistakes that have made my current version of myself so wise, so appreciative of having this beautiful woman, Beth Hritsuk McKinney, as my wife, and the greatest gift that she could possibly give me with our three children.
People occasionally ask me when my birthday is, and they think I'm joking when I smirk and say that I celebrate it every single day. But I'm not joking, I do celebrate my birthday and my life every day. I've been somewhere else, somewhere where a little girl did not shriek with joy upon hearing my arrival home, where there was no little to sit on my lap and beg me to throw him around some, and where there wasn't an older girl who likes to say that she's a "Daddy's Girl." And a gorgeous wife who cares about me so much, and shows it every single day, who thinks I'm sexy even though every day I'm beginning to look more and more like Archie Bunker.
I've been a lot of places:skiing in Kitzbuhel, Austria; exploring the Black Forest in Germany; gazing at the majestic Grand Canyon from the North Rim, and hiking up Havaisupai to the most incredible waterfalls; I've hiked up quite a few 14,000-foot mountains in Colorado; and I've partied all night long in Pamplona, Spain, during the Running of the Bulls festival -- and I ran with those bulls; I celebrated the American Fourth of July at an unbelievably convivial festival in Warsaw, Poland; and I've hit a few game-winning 3-pointers in basketball, and hit some really fun drop shots in tennis.
But none of this compares to walking in my door each day and hearing that lovely shriek from a 9-year-old girl so full of love, it extends way past our universe and back quite a few times, and then you have to throw in some infinity -- and then go beyond.
When you wonder who the luckiest guy is in the world, you can bet it's the guy who that excited little girl is running up to in that picture.
I may lose the argument of who loves whom the most in my family, but when it comes to who the luckiest guy is in the world, it's me. That's an argument I cannot lose. And the picture says so.
If you're interested, I think you can see the Facebook post here: