Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Bittersweet Milestone as Becca Turns One

In just a few days (May 2) Becca will celebrate her first birthday. Her mom and I are obviously very excited. We look forward to having friends and family gather on Saturday—and to watching Becca eat her first piece of birthday cake. ☺

But as much as we celebrate Becca, we would be less than honest if we didn't admit that our hearts are a bit divided as we approach her birthday. For we are painfully aware that this is not only Becca's birthday, it is also her sister Hope's birthday, and Hope is not here to celebrate the day with us. We miss Hope a great deal and we so wish that both our daughters could be celebrating this milestone together. There is and always will be an empty place in all of our hearts and all of our lives because Hope is not here. We do our best to reconcile such conflicting emotions as we celebrate Becca and simultaneously continue to mourn for Hope. (Two days after we celebrate Becca's birthday, we will be visiting the cemetery to mark the first anniversary of Hope's death—and the first anniversary of her funeral falls on Mother's Day this year—UGH!)

The inescapable truth is that this is the first of many milestones that Becca will celebrate that will inevitably be bittersweet for her parents. Hope was a part of our story and we can't deny her existence just because others are uncomfortable with us talking about her. We want Becca to know that Hope was real. She had a twin sister whom we loved every bit as much as we love her. We want Becca to feel that it's okay to ask questions about Hope, if she ever wants to know about her sister.

Having said that, we do want this birthday (and all future life milestones) to be a celebration of Becca's life. Though we cannot and will not ignore Hope's existence, we also hope and pray that her shadow will not in any way diminish Becca's ability to live life to full and celebrate your life as the years go by. We are so ecstatic to have our beautiful Rebecca May with us—she is not a consolation prize. All that we went through was worth it if at the end was Becca...

It's hard to put into words just how much I love my little girl. Mom has commented that she is "daddy's little girl." And for whatever reason, it seems to be true. I look forward to her smiling face when I come home from work, and to our evening routine together: doing our Rebecca dance together, giving her a bottle, and singing songs as I rock her to sleep. We do seem to have developed a special father–daughter bond and I hope that our bond grows stronger over the years. I'm sure the relationship will evolve as she grows, but I hope she'll always have a special place in her heart for her dear old dad—even when she is a teenager and she might not want to admit it. ☺

Sometimes it can be a little disarming to love someone as much as I love my darling daughter. My instinct is to want to take her in my arms and shelter her from all possible harm, but I know that I cannot, and promise to do my best not to. I would mean well by my actions, but it would actually be a mistake to try and "protect" her. I've come to understand that we actually learn a great deal by being allowed to experience all of life—the good, the bad, and the ugly. From an early age, I have to begin to "let her go" and set her free to become the person that God has created her to be—which may or may not be the person I think she should be. My greatest joy will be watching my daughter grow into a strong confident woman. I pray that God will guide her steps and I promise to be there to love and support her along her journey. I pray that I as her father can help to "give her roots to help her find her wings."



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