for a swim class at BYU. Most of the classwork was done by swimming for a certain amount of hours each week, rather than meeting at a specific time. So it fit a demanding schedule as I tried to work and go to school and be a husband--and a new dad.
The final exam me required me scheduling a time with the instructor and swimming various strokes and laps. We scheduled it for an evening and my wife came along and brought the baby to watch.
After I was finished, she handed David to me and I stood in the shallows, bobbing him up and down in the warm water.
I remember him smiling and loving the water, cuddling closer and grabbing my finger with his tiny little hands. That moment is frozen in my mind--one of my great treasures.
That baby grew up. He left to BYU last fall and we had our first experience with a child leaving the nest. And although the nest is far from empty, his absence definitely left it emptier.
When he came home for Christmas, everything was happier, brighter, and more wonderful than it already was. His presence created a celebratory atmosphere that lasted for the whole break.
The only downside of the break was that I got a nasty sinus infection that turned into bronchitis or possible ebola/bubonic plague. I felt miserable.
We live far enough away from everyone else in our ward that it's not always easy to get a priesthood blessing, but I really needed one.
I had ordained David an elder just a few days before. So, now he laid his hands on my head and blessed me.
It's hard for me to describe the emotion I felt as those hands touched my head. Those hands that grabbed my finger 18 years ago. Those hands that fell and got scraped when I taught him to ride a bike. Those hands that had made messes around the house, that had played the trombone, that had built forts in our woods. Those hands that now had authority and power from God to bless.
That moment sunk into my soul as well--a bookend to the earlier memory as that baby now becomes a man--a priesthood man who will share the gospel and bless others and will one day clasp the tiny fingers of his own children.
There's possibly no meaning in this for anyone beyond me. But as I consider those images, I am so grateful for the great plan of happiness, for the moments like this that it provides as we all work together to return--once and for all--to the home we all share for an eternal holiday together.
Braden Bell is a husband, father, teacher, director and author. His new book, Middle School Magic: The Kindling will be released in July. He blogs about all of the above at bradenbell.com.