From the moment I learned that Heather was pregnant with Maddie my life revolved around that little girl’s life. In those early days I was consumed with thoughts of how I could help advance Heather’s pregnancy as far as possible. That meant carting Heather around to different doctors, keeping Heather’s spirits up, and waiting on her hand and foot during her extended bed rest. It also meant many private moments where I would close my eyes and think, “Please, oh please let my baby girl make it.”

Later, when Maddie was in the NICU, it meant spending endless hours at the side of her isolette (later her crib), learning to change her diapers, holding her in my arms, and singing her Beatles songs.

Finally, Maddie came home, and our two lives became entwined even more. Late night feedings, mornings cuddled up on the couch, afternoons spent giggling while making silly noises, all of these things were done together. There wasn’t my life or Maddie’s life (or Heather’s life), but our life. She was my daughter, and I felt like I knew where my life was going when she was in it.

But then, three years ago this Saturday, Maddie was taken from us. The life we had together… our life… was lost.

I’ve soldiered on since then, and so has Heather. We’ve had another beautiful daughter who lights up our lives, but it is impossible to shake the feeling of uneasiness. When Maddie was here my days were filled by her. But now – and for the last three years – not even a single second has been spent with her. She is gone, vanished like a dream in the night, and it is very hard to process.

I try my best to still include her in my life even though she’s no longer here. I speak to her urn, I sing songs I wrote for her, I look at her photos and videos, and I write posts like this one. But it all feels so empty when compared to a kiss on Maddie’s cheek, her arm around my neck, or the twinkle in her eyes.

In my darkest moments I think to myself, “Why do I bother doing these things? She’s gone. She isn’t hearing or seeing any of this.”

But in other moments I think, “What if she is?”

It’s the thought that Maddie is somewhere, somehow still connected to my life, still feeling my love in some way, that keeps me saying, “I love you, Maddie” even though I am alone when I do it, keeps me singing her songs to her, and keeps me writing about how much she means to me (especially at sad times like these).

So Maddie, this is Daddy here to tell you how much I love and miss you.

Do you remember that photo shoot we did with Cat and Adi shortly after you came home?

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Or when I lost a bet with Grandma and had to wear a Dodgers shirt to a baseball game?

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Or when we dressed up like the Flintstones for your first birthday party and you dug your hands into your cake?

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Or when we both dug into a cupcake at the birthday party for Reilly and Georgie?

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Or how about when we just cuddled together and shared a smile?

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I do. How could I ever forget?

Wherever you are, little girl, Daddy loves you forever and ever.

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