The man gets up every morning at the crack of dawn, looking for a moment to stretch, to reflect, and to drink his coffee. He sits on his couch as the shadow of the large maple tree outside his window gives him shade, and hides him from view. The couch sags under his weight as it has started to do recently, but it’s comforting and familiar to him so he relaxes and turns on the television. The news is on, as it always is this time of morning, before the world begins to turn in earnest.
In the next room the earth begins to spin, as the squeaking of the bed springs can attest. The sounds of little feet on the soft carpet shuffling across the floor nearly make their way to his ears, but he passes it off as wind whistling through the trees. He sits there with his hand over his eyes to see if he can peer through at his reflection in the television without seeing how old he’s gotten. A set of little eyes peer in at him from around the corner, a yawn painting those tiny lips of his four-year old daughter.
She watches him every morning while he sits there feeling old, remembering when he didn’t feel all the aches and pains that consume him now. She watches and instead sees the man whose face lights up when he knows she’s in the room. In a few moments he will realize she’s standing there and his face will light up as it always does, but she thinks she prefers seeing him as he is now because it’s real. It is ingrained in her mind, this early morning reality, this proof of life that reminds her that he too is human.
He shifts in his seat, his hand leaving his eyes, knowing that life is moving on, that he is supremely changed from the man he used to be. But he also knows those changes have made a profound impact on that spinning world he calls his own, that the difference in him can’t be quantified, and probably shouldn’t be anyway. Because while he enjoys those private moments before the proper break of dawn, they are nothing compared with the sense of fulfillment he gets when he looks in his little girl’s eyes.
Then he notices her silhouette in the glass from the television screen as she stands there in her flannel footie pajamas staring at him with a smile on her face before she runs into the room and throws herself into his arms. His coffee forgotten, he gathers her up close as he does every morning in the moment when everything changes. And he hopes she sees that she’s his whole world, that she understands he will always be there for her no matter how old he gets or how everything else in the world might change.
And as she stands there basking in her father’s love, she wants this moment to last forever.