About a week-and-a-half ago we got an email from a friend with the link to an online video. Her note said simply: “This might make you two smile.”
She was so right. The video shows her son-in-law and granddaughter (his four-year-old daughter) singing “Tonight You Belong to Me,” while he plays along on a pink toy guitar or ukulele. Dana and I watched it again and again, then shared it with some friends.
We weren’t alone. In that quintessentially Internetty way that some things catch on, “Tonight You Belong to Me” exploded into the collective consciousness. Since the video was first posted on September 17, it has been viewed over 3 million times (and counting). They even showed a clip on Good Morning America. It seems that pretty much everyone who has seen it has had a similar reaction. The question is: Why?
There is no doubt—no debate whatsoever—that the four-year-old is irresistibly cute. But the world is full of cute four-year-olds. YouTube, for that matter, is full of cute four-year-olds. That she can carry a tune helps too, of course, but that’s not it either. The true magic of the video (and if you haven’t stopped to watch it you should go do so right now) is in the interaction between the dad and daughter. The video isn’t about music—it’s about the clear and unmistakable love that sparkles in the eyes of a father completely smitten with his little girl.
Now maybe that’s the bias of another father who is himself completely smitten with his little girl. But there is a moment about a minute-and-a-half in when he looks at her and you just know. Just know. It’s love, unspoken but undeniable, clear, genuine, eternal. Read the comments of the strangers who confess to watching “Tonight You Belong to Me” over and over and over and you know that they see it too. “Every day when I get up I am going to watch this as it puts me in such a good mood!!” “Can’t stop watching this adorable video!” “The greatest thing I’ve ever seen.” “It’s impossible to watch this and not smile.” “This brings me so much joy.” “I cry every time that I watch this! Happy tears of course! The love is such a gift.”
The comments come from all over the country. From Japan, Malaysia. the Middle East. Comments in languages I don’t even recognize. People all over the world seeing and hearing and feeling something familiar and supernal in this three-minute duet, recognizing in it an element of truth and goodness and virtue in their purest sense.
I know a thing or two about that kind of love. I felt it surge within me when I held Luke in my arms for the first time some 23 years ago. I have never felt closer, more connected with God than I did in that moment, knowing that in some way Dana and I had helped Him bring another soul to Earth. And I still feel it today when I talk to Bryn on the phone or watch the ballgame with Seth.
I do not have science to back me up on this, but I believe that the love we feel for our kids is just about as close to godliness as we can get in this life. No wonder one prophet said that pure love is “the greatest of all” (Moroni 7: 46). And no wonder I find myself watching—for the 27th time—as another dad turns to his little girl and sings: “You belong to me.”