Dear Maddie,

It’s hard to believe that if you were here today you would be a three-year-old girl. I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised – the day you were born I was thirty-one, and next month I will turn thirty-five. A lot of time has passed since I last saw you. So much, in fact, that those seventeen wonderful months we had together almost feel like a dream. When I summon the strength to look at photos of you I find myself asking:

“Did it really happen?”

“Could that beautiful little girl really have been mine?”

“Was I really her Daddy?”

I examine your big blue eyes, curly hair, and infectious smile, and remember how beautiful you were on the inside as well – gentle, kind, and loving.

I think about your quick laughter, how you loved music, how you lit up whenever I entered the room, and as I do I know that it wasn’t a dream – it was real. It’s just hard to believe, Maddie, because that’s how special you were.

Since losing you I have been in a great deal of pain, Maddie, and one night someone posed an interesting question. They wondered if I had the power to wipe all memory of our time together from my mind ala the movie Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, and thus be free of all this pain, would I do it?

As tempting as it is to imagine a life where I wouldn’t have to feel such immense pain to core of my being – I wouldn’t change a thing. Because for all of this pain to be taken away I would also have to allow our life together be taken away too, and I could never let that happen. Being your Dad is one of the things I am absolutely most proud of in life, Maddie, and fifty-years from now, no matter what happens, I will feel the same way. As the song says, they can’t take that away from me.

“The way your smile just beams
The way you sing off key
The way you haunt my dreams
No they can’t take that away from me

We may never meet again, on that bumpy road to love
Still I’ll always, always keep the memory of

The way you changed my life
No, they can’t take that away from me”

Happy Birthday, Chicken Muffin Love Bear. Wherever you are, baby, Daddy loves you more than ever.

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