Heather’s mother, Linda, wrote us an email this morning that said this day five years ago was one of the very best in her life. 11/11/07 was one of the best days of my life as well, as it was the day I first laid eyes upon beautiful Madeline and experienced the magic of becoming a parent.

looking tough
Maddie on the day of her birth… 11/11/07

As wonderful as that day was, however, it was also one of my absolute scariest. Maddie’s life hung in the balance, and I was told by medical personal over and over that I needed to understand she might pass at any moment. There was nothing I’d ever wanted as much in all of my life as for her to make it, and the thought of losing her before I got the chance to so much as touch her shook me to the core of my being. She grew stronger, though, and when she eventually came home after sixty-eight days, I felt profound relief and gratitude.

If our story had ended with leaving the hospital it would have had a happy ending, but, as you know, our story took a tragic twist seventeen months later. I am so thankful for those seventeen months with Maddie, though. Being her daddy was such a transformational experience for me, and the things I like about myself today – my compassion, my maturity, my capacity for love – are all a result of having known and loved Maddie. Every day, when I am good to my loved ones and the people I encounter in the world, I see her influence.

birthday cream puff
Maddie enjoying a creme puff on her first birthday… 11/11/08

It’s staggering to think that Maddie would be five today, and I can’t express how much I wish she was physically here with me, but make no mistake – she is here.

daddy and the birthday girl
Daddy helping Maddie with her birthday creme puff on 11/11/08

So happy birthday, Chicken Muffin Love Bear. Daddy loves you forever and ever.