She sang quietly along with the music. I didn’t dare offer a glance as we drove home. I was singing along with the good ole’ tune too, but significantly louder than her. I wanted to study her and listen to her sing, but that’s not what she wanted – she didn’t say it, but I knew it instinctively… A dad thing.

We had just dropped her teammate off on the way home when she reached over to my stereo and hit the reverse arrow to take us back to track three; her favorite song on my new/old CD I’d picked up a few weeks before while I was waiting for her at her favorite place on earth; the bookstore.

“You wanna harmonize?” she asked quietly and out of character, “I memorized the whole song.”

“Sure,” I answered, turning it up to drown myself out and make her more comfortable. We sang along with the old song all the way home. Even started it over a couple times. It was the first time she asked me to sing along with her, not that we’d never sung an impromptu duet, we do sometimes, but usually don’t plan or organize it like my youngest did that night.

I knew it wasn’t about the music… It was therapy. It was her way of dealing with the reality of life. She’s learned that we don’t always get what we want in this life…

It was a night filled with hope. A day that had been in the back of her head for a long time. It was a night of trials. It was testing herself. My youngest had watched her sisters navigate the same waters, but this night would be her turn under the bright lights… It was a night of loss…

Our youngest daughter’s lacrosse team made it into the second round of the playoffs via a first round bye due to their record. Records and reputation can only take you so far in this life, then there is a time of testing. There were tears, her head parked in the nook between my chest and shoulder for a little while followed by a return visit later. They were tears of sorrow, but they were also tears of joy… a hard concept for any of us to grasp, even this many years removed from those days that we remember in vivid detail our entire lives.

My daughter knows me too… she knew I was somber and she knows it has little to do with winning or losing. She knows I believe and have coached enough kids to understand that winning is really about giving every ounce of mental and physical dedication with perseverance and honor that defines winning… and the winning takes care of itself.

Our little one knows that the reality of another year gone makes me feel the same emotion as she does. I have sorrows, but I also have joy. My love for our little one has nothing to do if she wins or not… If she conducts herself with honor and has fun in the process it’s all good. I can’t help but believe it’s more similar to our Father’s relationship with all of His children.

“Another lacrosse season, huh Babe?” I asked the obvious question rubbing her back before turning in.

“Yeah,” she answered.

“I’m proud of you, Babe.”

“Thanks, dad – goodnight –  love you,” she smiled timidly.

“I love you too, Babe, sleep tight.”

Regardless of the number, it’s hard to imagine that night as anything other than a win…

That’s when losing wins…