Eight.

My oldest daughter, Isabel turns eight today. We’ve been planning part 1 and part 2 of her birthday since the week after Andre died

When I spoke at Andre’s funeral, I mentioned a part about “Andre the father” or daddy as he is most commonly known in our house. The strange thing about deciding to have kids is that you have no idea what kind of parent you are going to be. Before you have kids, you have all of these amazing expectations for both you as a parent and for what your kid will be, but only when the child is actually here do you really see that there are no guarantees in parenting, and nothing is ever like you expected it be. For Andre this was the case all along. Being an only child, and very little experience with babies, he was terrified. He never really showed it to me, but as the days counted down toward my due date with Isabel, the intensity ramped up. And then the due date came and went, and she was finally born 2 weeks past her due date. Andre was a rock. He was my rock.

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So on April 8th, 2010 at 7:33pm Andre became the most amazing dad to a beautiful baby girl. I clearly remember the moments at the hospital when he would hold her, I could see all the hard lines and edges that he always used to protect himself suddenly softened and blurred and we went from being him and I, to a family.  In what felt like an instant, he became the dad that all little girls should have. He held her like he had been waiting to hold her his whole life. The joy he had was only ever matched by the birth of our next baby girl. 24764_1391520064823_1721280_n

I don’t know if I will ever be able to tell either of my girls the love he had for them because I don’t think the right words exist to do any justice to amount of love he felt for his children. But here’s what I do know:

As they grow, they will  face challenges and doubt themselves, and he will be there cheering them on and encouraging them at every turn.

When they graduate high school and college, he will  beaming with pride and cheering the loudest from the back of the room.

And, if  they are lucky enough to find a love like I had with Andre and they chose to marry, he will be there to walk them down the aisle. 24764_1391516184726_1560269_n

It breaks my heart that he’s not here to tell them all of these things himself, because I know he wouldn’t want to miss any of this for the world, and that the choice not to be here for even a second wasn’t his own. But, if I do nothing else after his death, I will make sure my girls know that their daddy loved them deeply and he will watch over them and keep them safe each and every day.

Happy, happy birthday, my sweet Isabel. Mommy and Daddy will always love you. 376538_3943651026502_711819676_n

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