To My Daughters: I Can't Tell You How Much I Love You
To Holly, Abby and Hope:
I really miss you guys, and I'm very sorry we can't be together. Since we can't, I wanted to write and try to tell you how I feel. It's a feeble effort compared to being able to tell you in person or to show you, but it's father's day, and everything about it to me is about you guys (and my own dad, of course).
I remember last year. We went bike riding together in Traverse City. Seemed like it would not be possible for awhile with Hope screaming about her fear of getting on the back of the "tag-a-long" with me. But once I got you guys to start down the path, she was fine - no, not just fine, she was laughing and saying, "this is fun", and "go faster". It was fun, and we did go faster!
That was 17 father's days and counting. This is the first one we've been apart, and I'm really sad. But trust me, I have a lifetime full of memories with you guys, and I know you do too. We will always have that whether we can be together or not.
Truly, one of the very biggest moments of my life was the day you born, Holly. I just remember the long labor your Mom had, and finally, you were there! It is an an incomparable experience to see your own child come into the world - there is no way you could imagine ho it will impact you even one day before it happens.
But I recall that as soon as you were you dry, they whisked me away with you while the doctors took care of your Mom. They gave you the number "10" on the side of your mobile crib - and said it was because you were a "10" - and you were! We still didn't have a middle name for you, and on the way up, the nurse suggested "Nicole" - when I asked your mom the next time I saw her, she liked it and that was it - Holly Nicole...
We got upstairs and they gave you a Vitamin K shot. Of course, you started to cry when they stuck you with the needle, and then I got to play the role of Dad for the first time. The nurse handed you to me to comfort you while the shot wore off. We sat alone in a room and you were just this warm little, squirmy bundle, but almost instantly you quit crying as I held you.
And then you looked right in my eye - you looked at me like you already knew me, and felt safe in my arms. You were calm. We connected, and it was the most real kind of connection I ever had experienced. For the first time in my life, I knew there was a God for sure. I always had believed in God, but always doubted too.
But now I knew for sure. How could you possibly look at me like you knew me and belonged with me if God hadn't made that happen? There was a God who knew you before I did, who knew you would be my child and I would be your Dad, and who put us together - and no one could take that away...
..and never thought anyone would want to try...but I guess there are people who think they know better than God...but they don't know about all the things we share...bike rides, sail boats, bonfires on the beach, campfires in the back yard, campfire songs, other songs, Michael Jackson, skim boarding, riding mowers, cooking on the grill, fishing off the dock, or off a really big boat, donuts, computer games, computer projects, videos, video stores, the Wii, sleeping bags, blankets, art work, tea parties, the Governor's Cat, the Grand Traverse Pie Company, Sleder's, movies, 3D, and on and on...
and people want, with all their might - to take that away from you guys - I'm sorry, I'm really sorry girls, I love you and I will always do everything I can to be with you, to love you - my door will always be open to you - this isn't your fault -God means us to be a family and no one can take that away in the end -
I want you to know so many of the good things I think about each of you:
Abby, your laugh stays in my head, I remember how excited you get when you can play a trick or get other people to laugh. You're petite, but you're made of steel. You're completely unafraid to get on a riding mower and cut the grass in a very big yard - you make me proud! You always want to have the best things - the coolest bicycle, the best games - and you like to make decisions - when people hesitate, you decide where we would go to eat - what we will do, you're the decision maker.
I remember when you were little, you liked to sit on my lap to eat - almost wouldn't think of eating any other way. You "grew up" quickly in certain ways. You've always wanted to be as "big" as Holly. Do you remember you liked Dunkin' Donuts and stopping there on the way to school or on the way to church? You still love it, don't you?
When I got an apartment, you loved to make a tent and playing on the triple bunk bed. The hamsters were always making you laugh. And you became such fast friends with Samantha - you loved her so much, and just laughed at almost everything she did. I miss you Abby. I know your feelings and hurts and why they are there. Time can heal and I pray that it does. I love you with all my heart.
Hope...your smile is perhaps the most radiant thing I have ever seen - you have a captivating charm. You are just a beautiful, lovely young lady.
Your love for rocks just always amazed me - any kind of rocks - anywhere. You can always find petoskey stones when no one else can. You loved to fish off the dock, plastic fish would do - who needs real fish anyway?
You loved the word "joyful", because you were/are such a joyful kid. When we went to the Barbie exhibit at the Children's Museum, you couldn't have been happier.
You always wanted my attention and we seemed SO busy having to run Holly here and Abby there, I never felt I could give the full attention you deserved and I wanted to give you. You are SOOOO smart - good at math, reading, logic... I remember you saying once, "Why do people always say Jesus is coming back when he's already here?" That was beautiful - and you were only five at the time!
Hope I miss you so very much - you are adorable and I know how much you need your dad. I hope we can be together again soon.
Holly - for five years you were an only child, and very much the apple of my eye. I'm so impressed with how you've grown, you're a great swimmer, dedicated runner, fantastic singer, and a friend to your friends among and beyond friends.
We have had so much history together and so much time - I am glad for all we've had together and only hope I can give as much to your sisters. We had Canine Assistants - that was an experience every kid should be able to enjoy. We had hundreds of rides to school together, pre-school, kindergarten (I remember how cute and sweet you always looked in that St. Timothy's uniform), and many years beyond. In so many ways, you became the daughter I always dreamed I would have, and your sisters have emulated you - so much talent for singing and scholastics - you are great kids.
The fishing trip we had on Nantucket was something I will never forget. The rolling waves, and the fish just coming in over and over and over again. That sea bass you caught, I swear, will probably be the best fish I ever taste!
All three of you girls are the kind of girls any dad would be blessed to have - and I know you know what a blessing it is that God did give us to each other. Hang in there girls - be strong, and love will prevail in the end.
Four Years Later
You all have changed a lot, but nothing has changed in this one way - I still love you so much and I miss you deeply every day!
I bought a new house downtown in Indy. There are rooms here for each of you. You would love this house! It is a wonderful place.