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.
Laura Scarborough says:
oh my heart!
i truly ache for you all and today you will be in my heart and on my mind.
Sending love to all of you today.
Happy 3rd Birthday Maddie.
*hugs* Will be thinking of you all today.
As I did..
Crying at my desk. Madeline was so, so lucky to have you as a daddy – any one of the hundreds of photos of you two together just show a relationship that is so perfect and so loving. Mike, I have never met you, your wife or your daughters but I am sending out fierce love.
I too am crying at my desk. I felt every word.
Sending you and Heather, and Maddie and Annie a prayer today.
This is one of my favorite pictures of the two of you. Taking a moment today to do something special, in honor of Maddie and your family.
Thinking of you and sweet Maddie.
Happy third birthday angel girl.
Hoping your day is peaceful, guys.
Marti from Michigan says:
I wish I could give her back to you! Somehow, have a wonderful day today, somehow…………
I’ve wondered the same thing many, many times. And I agree–It’s worth every second we’re allowed to have them.
Even if those seconds are far, far too few.
Much love today. xo
That picture of you and Maddie says it all. She is such a precious girl and I would love for her to be back in your arms. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we are here for you and your family. I’ve been trying to hold it together while reading the posts that you and Heather put up but the tears are coming fast.
I started reading your family’s journey last year when my daughter was just a couple of months old. I like to think I’m a better parent because of it. It can be difficult at times but I try not to take advantage of the time I have with her.
Thank you for sharing this.
I love how you share your daughter with us. I love how honest you are about your love for her. I ache when I read about your pain. You were a wonderful daddy and as much as you were blessed with Maddie, she was equally blessed to have you as a daddy. Much, much love and hugs and shared tears today.
I’m just gutted reading this. Dads and baby girls – does it to me every time. Thanks for giving me a glimpse in to what might be going on inside my own husband’s head. He’s never put pen to paper (or fingers to laptop) like this and while we talk, we don’t always delve this deep to the gut-wrenching, raw emotions.
I’m thinking of you all today, and remembering Maddie on her birthday with so much love. Here in Australia, she will never be forgotten.
Beautiful post! Happy third brithday, Maddie!!! I wish you were here! Thinking of the five of you, always!
Sending so much love to you, Heather and Annie today!!
Happy Birthday Maddie!! Miss you bunches!
That picture is perfection.
Love to all of you – and especially the beautiful birthday girl Maddie – we love you so much! xo
Beautiful, Mike. She was extraordinarily lucky to have you as her daddy. Happy birthday Maddie. You are so loved and missed.
There really is something about Daddy’s little girls isn’t there?
My heart aches for you today, Mike, as I am a daddy’s girl. That bond is something that can’t always be explained. I wish I could make it better for you, Heather, and Annie.
What beautifully captured sentiments. Sending prayers, love & strength…
XOXO from GA,
Mary Ann says:
What a beautiful post from a wonderful Dad. You can see the love you had for each other in that photo. Happy Birthday Maddie, lots of people are thinking about you and your Mommy and Daddy today.
Happy Birthday Maddie.. Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers today..
catherine lucas says:
I truly believe that it’s better to have loved and lost then to not have known love…
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Garth Brooks (you don’t strike me as a country music fan. ) His song The Dance has the lyrics
“And now, I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go.
Our lives our better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain, but I’dve had to miss the Dance.”
I wouldn’t give up the love to erase the pain of my own personal sadness. I think that’s what love is.
Happy Birthday to Maddie!
Oh, Mike, I don’t have words. Holding you close to my heart today and always.
Love and hugs.
A hug and a prayer and a smile and a tear. Or ten.
Happy Birthday, Maddie.
Of all of the things that we grieve that Maddie will miss out on in life, knowing true, complete, unconditional love isn’t one of them– and that’s because she had you as her family.
Today, I’ll be wearing purple, pleading with everyone who will listen to donate to the March of Dimes so that other families don’t have to celebrate their babies’ birthdays without them.
Sending you all love and prayers for peace… and wishing your sweet Maddie Moo the happiest of third birthdays, wherever she is.
There isn’t anything sweeter than a father’s love for his little girl. Beautiful words for your beautiful girl, Mike. Wishing you peace today and always! xoxo
I sit here in tears after reading both of your posts and know that doesn’t even compare (not even a little bit) to your emotions. My thoughts and prayers are with your family today and always.
Anna Marie says:
Mike, this is beautiful. You and Heather are in my thoughts and my heart today. That beautiful little girl is loved and missed, and will never be forgotten.
My heart breaks anew, for all of you. What a beautiful post.
Never enough words to convey how truly sorry I am, and how much I am thinking about Maddie and your family.
Happy Birthday to a true little lady.
Kayla N. says:
Love the picture. Happy birthday, Maddie. Sending extra love and thoughts your way today, Spohr family
The picture shows how happy and safe she felt in your arms. As someone said previously, “I ache for your ache”. She should be here.
Happy 3rd Birthday Maddie! You’ve touched so many lives!
The relationship you had with Maddie is to me the epitome of how its supposed to be for Daddies and their little girls.I can’t begin to imagine how hard its been for you, Mike. Maddie is so special, just as much today as she ever was. Keeping all of you in my prayers.
Lovely post. You are in my thoughts today. Happy Birthday to t
he Spohr family.
Sending love and hugs to all of you today. Always in my thoughts.
You are such a good daddy to both of your girls, Mike. I love you all and think about you everyday.
Thinking of all of you today. Happy birthday to your beautiful ray of sunshine.
Beautiful post. Beautiful girl. Between you and Heather, my mascara doesn’t have a chance this morning……..
Crying at my desk as well. Sending you all lots of love today. Happy birthday to sweet little Maddie.
You all are truly amazing almost as amazing as your daughter was!
I wish I had words of comfort, but I really can’t think of any worthwhile. Please know that I am thinking of you all today and your sweet Maddie. Happy Birthday to your baby.
Four Gambel Girls and a guy - documenting the adventures we call life says:
My thoughts and prayers are with you more then ever today…..and if any good can come of this at all, please know that anyone who reads your blog and knows you is hugging their children a little tighter and so appreciative of you making sure that we take nothing for granted.
She will be forever loved and missed! Happy Birthday sweet, sweet girl!
Lessons in Life and Light says:
Thinking of you all today. Happy birthday, Miss Maddie. We love you.
mike, you are in my thoughts today. can’t imagine how hard this is for you.
Crying at my desk too.
My heart is aching for you all today.
I don’t know what it is about hearing such deep emotion from a man, but it gets me every time. My heart breaks for you and Heather…and for Annie too.
Thinking of you all today and missing your chicken muffin love bear:)
thinking about you today….
Simply Beautiful. You’re all in my thoughts today. Sending love and hugs. Happy Birthday Maddie Moo!
J from Ireland says:
Happy 3rd Birthday Maddie. My thoughts and prayers go out to you both. I can only imagine the pain you are in, today especially.
Trisha Vargas says:
Crying at my desk. Oh, How my heart hurts for you and Heather.
(((HUGS))) from Florida
Sarah R says:
My heart hurts for you. You and Heather are in my thoughts today… Many hugs from Wisconsin!
Your post was beautifully written.
Mike, you are the perfect dad for Maddie (and for Annie, too). Your love and devotion is what every little girl deserves and Maddie was blessed to have you as her dad. I’m in awe of the wonderful relationship the two of you shared and I’m so glad you got to be her dad and share those 17 wonderful months together. I wish that she was here to celebrate her third birthday with Heather, Annie and you, that you were all together as a complete family.
Maddie is so loved. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her, but I miss her and love her. She is so precious and will forever be remembered in many people’s hearts.
Another Heather says:
Thinking of you and your family lots today, Mike. Sending light.
domestic extraordinaire says:
Happy Birthday to Maddie and so much love to you, Heather, & Annie (& your families today)
Angie M. says:
my heart aches for you. i’ve been thinking about all of you.
love & hugs. Happy Birthday precious Maddie
Michelle Pixie says:
My heart aches for all of you today. Much love to all of you.
Stephanie Padilla Salgado says:
Happy 3rd Birthday Maddie!!
You, Heather, Annie & everyone who was blessed enough to know the Famous Madeline are all in my prayers. Her memory will live on forever!!!
All I can say is that I’m remembering Maddie today more so then usual and she is loved soo much by soo many people. Love and hugs to you and your family.
Overflowing Brain says:
Mike, this was beautiful. Happy birthday to your beautiful daughter.
Achingly beautiful, Mike. Thank you for sharing this…and thank you for sharing that beautiful, wonderful, inspiring little girl with us.
Mike, that was so beautiful and so touching. You’re an amazing Father.
My heart breaks for all of you!! This is so sad and so unfair. She should be here with all of you that love her.
Happy Birthday sweet Maddie!!
Happy birthday Maddie. You are so loved.
My heart aches for you and Heather today, as always. You are both such amazing parents to both of your girls. I wish I could say or do something that would take away some of your pain, but realistically I know that there is nothing that would make you feel better other than having your Madeline giggling in your arms again. Thank you for sharing Madeline with all of us, and letting us love her. Sending so much love to you guys from up here in Vancouver. I’ve been wearing purple all week, but today I’ll be completely decked out. If anybody asks me why, I’ll tell them that it’s to honor the most amazing little girl that ever lived on her third birthday.
Happy Birthday sweet Madeline.
Oh Mike, Heather’s letter made the tears well up and now I am sitting here full on bawling after reading this. My heart is truly breaking for you guys today.
Marnie * says:
Thinking of you all, today and everyday.
You are an amazing daddy to both Madeline and Annabel! They are so lucky to have you. I hope that you are able to spend some time today celebrating the day that brought your first daughter into the world and thinking of all your happy memories with her. Sending you guys big hugs.
my heart hurts
What a beautiful letter to your daughter Mike. How proud she would be at the strength you and Heather have. You continue to unselfishly move forward to help others in need as Maddie once was. Please know that I think of you both as you celebrate her today.
This reminds me of a quote that I love love love……”Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” (Dr. Seuss)
I miss my father terribly, but if taking away the pain means having never met him? Not in a million years.
Hugs to you all.
Thinking of you and your family today. (((hugs)))
Mike, I can feel every single word of love you have for her and the pain from losing her. Happy Birthday, Maddie, we miss you! Much love!
Thinking of you and Heather today.
Happy Birthday sweet Maddie!!
Can’t imagine how difficult a day this must be for you and your families…holding you all in my thoughts and prayers.
Happy Birthday, sweet girl.
Fairly Odd Mother says:
Thinking of you and your family today.
Hugs to you, Heather and Annie. Happy birthday, sweet Madeline.
*sigh* You’ve rendered me speechless.
Happy Birthday to your sweet baby!
Mike this is beautiful! Sending you, Heather, Annie and Rigby hugs! I’m wearing purple today to honor Maddie! XX
So beautiful Mike. Praying for you and your family. Thanks for sharing.
Thinking about you all today.
Mike & Heather ,
We share so much in common. I to have lost children. I had a set of triplets in 2006 who passed away soon after their birth. I also got pregnant soon after I lost my babies with my precious Aubrey who just turned 3 November 7th, & your sweet Maddie & myself both share today as our birthday !! When Maddie passed away I was heatbroken for the 2 of you because I have been in your shoes & losing a baby is the hardest thing you can ever do and also because Aubrey ( my miracle baby) & Maddie were only 4 days apart in age. I couldn’t imagine the pain you felt having her for 17 months & then losing her. My triplets were only 1 & 3 days old when they passed anf still to this day I ache to hold them . I know we will never meet but I do pray for you & Heather & now sweet Annie because life sometimes throws you a curve ball but God really does know what he is doing.. You have to keep the faith !!!
C Ramirez says:
My heart aches for your family today – I am in such awe of the strength you both have. Maddie was so lucky to have you and you were so lucky to have her!!
My heart hurts for you. You deserve to hold your daughter on her birthday. Hoping you get lots of love from Heather, Annie and Rigby today, and lots of virtual love from friends around the world. I haven’t forgotten your little girl. And I’m wishing her a happy birthday.
Not the first and I won’t be the last (which is grand Sending you guys love and hugs. Happy Birthday, Maddie girl.
My parents lost their first child, Jerry, when he was 2 days old. My dad isn’t very good at talking about his feelings. He doesn’t know what a blog is, let alone journaling (“What the hell is a tweet?” he once asked me). He has never really mentioned Jerry to me, except to say we had the same hair and eyes. Like I said to Heather, I’m Annie in this equation and I often talk to him, little sis to the big bro. Ask for advice, that kind of thing. I know the way you are introducing Maddie to Annie, she will grow up doing the same. And she is so lucky to be able to see and interact with Maddie via video. I have one baby picture of Jerry. I imagine he’d look like my dad, we’d have the same coloring, brown eyes, olive skin (Italian all the way), brownish hair, he’d be much taller than me.
But to see you with Maddie and now you with Annie? Just makes my heart fly. You are just so awesome. I hope one day I have a relationship just like you and Heather. And I hope my husband is as awesome with my kids as you are with yours. Happy birthday to your sweet Maddie. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have had the inspiration in my life I had been missing. Thank you for that.
happy birthday, Maddie.
i know exactly what you mean. and i agree.
and i am crying and beaming, both at once, at that picture of the two of you. you are beautiful, you two.
Happy Birthday Maddie! I thought of you all day. Such a somber day all around the world. You are your parents world and the grieve felt is echoed through.
Oh to be magic.
Beautiful. Forever. And ever.
What a wonderful letter! I know Maddie would love it and she loves you, Heather and Annie too. I’m sure her spirit is around you all today but I also know that’s not enough. You want your first born perfect “baby” girl back and with all I have, I like soooo many others wish we could bring her back to you too.
Today we not only remember those who fought and continue to fight for our country but we remember a little girls with beautiful baby blue eyes, the most wonderful smile and the most contagious laughter. We remember Madeline Alice Spohrs today and for always!
I feel frozen; my chest and throat ache. I am impossibly sad, but somehow I am smiling. The photo of you and Maddie is gorgeous.
Happy Birthday, Maddie. You’re so very missed.
Love to you and Heather and Maddie and Annie for always. Wishing Maddie love and joy on her birthday.
Nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. I was thinking of you guys yesterday, as always.
Love you & your beautiful little girl.
Tears. What a wonderful post full of love.
Happy Birthday Maddie. You are truly missed.
Happy Birthday to your angel Maddie. I have a 2-year-old Maddie who is the light of my life and I hugged her a little longer and a little tighter after reading this. I can not even imagine the pain you’ve endured but my prayers are with you and and your family. And no, they can’t take that away.
Lauren – PA
This would have to be the saddest letter I’ve read in a long time.
Dad & Mum your both such strong people and I know you will find the strength inside of you to continue in life.
Beautiful Maddie is a guardian Angel and the lord asked for her to meet him so Maddie can watch over people.
There is not a second of every minute with every day that Maddie is not looking over you.
May she be resting with all the other angels.
Oh, Mike. What a beautiful letter. Maddie was so very lucky to have you as her daddy. And her daddy you will forever be.