It looks just like an ordinary necklace: not too shiny, kinda small, nothing that really draws anyone's attention in. Nonetheless, this necklace is very special to me, not for the glitz and the glamour, but for what it represents.
On my twelfth birthday, my dad asked if he could take me out on a date, which he did from time to time. I jumped at the chance for one-on-one time, since I am one of four children and sometimes it is hard to compete for the spotlight. I got dressed up in my church clothes, hopped into my dad's Crown Victoria, and headed to the local Chili's. I do not remember much about dinner but I am sure it was delightful.
Once dinner was over, we got back in the car, and I was expecting dad to take me back home. He got in and said, "I have to give you your birthday present." He handed me a small box, wrapped with a little bow. My heart beat with anticipation as I ripped off the paper. Inside of the box was this necklace.
He said, "Emilee, I am giving you this necklace as a symbol of our relationship. This is the key to your heart, and right now, as you are my little girl, I am the keeper of this key. You belong to me, and I love you very much. You are not to give this love to any other boy until you are married. Then and only then, will this key be his. My intention as your father is to be the kind of man that you search for. I want to be a good example of who I want you to pass this key on to. I am not perfect and no man you find will be, but it is my job to love you the best that I can and show you the way you deserve to be treated. Happy Birthday."
Well, naturally I could not speak an intelligible word from the knot in my throat and the tears streaming down my face, but we both knew no words were necessary. As the years went by, I received several keys, mainly at sex talks in high school, where instead of passing out condoms, we picked out a key that was supposed to encourage us to remain abstinent. But this key was different instead of scaring me with terrible stories of unplanned pregnancies, std's, and the consequences of unprotected sex, my father showed me love. A pure love that led me to finding the man who was worthy of my heart.