Willow…

I am not 100% sure how many times I paced the birthing room they had us wait in. I anxiously chewed on my fingers, checked the clock, and walked to the door to peek down the hall. I had been waiting my whole life for the two of you. Papa took me in his arms, hugged me tight, and we just held each other for a few moments. Both of us praying that you and Brody were ok as you made your way into the world. I reluctantly released Papa to check the hall for the 100th time. Only this time instead of empty beige walls, two nurses were rolling an isolette towards us. And in that isolette were two little heads covered by knit hats. My heart squeezed, my breath escaped, I turned back to Tony already crying. We clung to each other as they brought you into the room.

I didn’t know where to look first, my eyes and heart wanted to soak it all in as fast as possible. I touched both of your cheeks, committing your faces to memory. Just in case….

Much later,when the chaos had cleared, your Papa tore himself away to go check on Zoey (who was just a baby herself) and put her to bed. She was being cared for by family, but had never been away from us before.

Brody was fast asleep next to me. The nurse finished your bath and placed you in my arms so that I could hold you skin to skin. For the billionth time that day I reminded myself to be careful, you weren’t mine yet… I had heard so many awful stories… Everybody told me over and over to shield my heart as much as possible. You weighed 6 pounds and 1 ounce, but somehow seemed so much bigger. With your head laying over my heart, you let out a sigh, it had been a big day, and in that moment I knew what had been true since the moment I heard about you. I was yours, I had never shielded my heart, I had fooled myself, but the reality was you were my daughter before I ever knew you were coming.

I have spent the last 5 and half years watching you blossom and grow into this spectacular force that stands before me in my kitchen, hands on her hips, stubborn pout on her face, as she justifies why her twin brother is tied to his bed.

You are the smallest of your siblings, but you are also by far the bravest. You need to climb the highest, jump the farthest, and run the fastest. Nothing scares you, and that terrifies me. I worry sometimes that I take your independence and strength for granted, that I forget that you are still just a little kid, so I get taken aback when you do need to run and hide in my arms and bury your face in my neck. I am always going to be humbled to be your safe place.

I think about the indominable spirit that lives in your tiny little frame. You have already conquered so much. To think that not too long ago you could barely see out of one eye. You have tolerated hours and hours of eye therapy every night, eye patches, exercises, headaches, doctors, and frustration. All tough stuff for even grown ups to deal with, but you are conquering it all. Your vision made recognizing letters, shapes, and numbers difficult. Somehow you have not only conquered your visual challenges, but you have managed to catch up in record time, and soon you will start reading.

I look at you sometimes and I wish I was half what you already are.

I know these days are numbered, days when you still want to be around me, to hold my hand, the butterfly and snow man kisses you give as we listen to Papa sing his lullabies at night. I wish I could hold onto them for just a little longer, but I know that is selfish. I am also excited to see what you do next, to see who you grow into. 100% for sure you are going to continue to be spectacular.

So my little Brown Eyed Girl… my mighty Willow tree… thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me to be your Daddy. I aspire to be the man you think I am. I love you with everything I am.

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