For the first few days of her life I prayed. She was born with pneumonia and the doctors weren’t sure she was going to make it. I prayed and cried. I asked for Heavenly Father to not let her leave. He blessed my baby girl and she pulled through. That was 14 years ago.
I remember when I first saw her angry side. She was mad because I sent her to her room, so she flipped over her Radio Flyer red wagon full of stuffed animals. It wasn’t cute then, but the thought of the toddler throwing a fit with her cute pigtails puts a smile on my face as I write about it today. That was 11 years ago.
Her fourth grade field trip was to Jefferson City, the state capitol of Missouri. I volunteered to chaperone. At the time I was on City Council; I had a few friends in the legislature, so my “crew” of nine year olds, including my baby girl, were able to bang the Speaker of the House’s gavel on the floor of the house. They got to sit in the office chair of our State Representative, Eric Burlison. A memory of education and a unique time with my daughter. That was 5 years ago.
Our most memorable “Daddy-Daughter Date” was at Silver Dollar City, a SW Missouri Theme Park. She still says it’s one of her best memories. While I recall the cave we toured, the fun we had, I’ll be honest – she made me go on “Fire-in-the-Hole” more times than my stomach could handle… the loops and turns and speed weren’t as easy on Nick as they used to be. That was four years ago.
I remember the day I went to jail. Before the sentencing, my baby girl brought me a letter – hand written. Her love for me meant more to me on that day than words can explain or than she’ll ever know. That was almost a year ago.
I write this to say that this past week I cried, I felt love, joy, sadness and appreciation. My daughter is growing to be a beautiful young woman, and as it happens I feel the cycle of life in motion. It’s beautiful. At the same time I am saddened to see my baby girl grow up, I’m also joyed to know she is smart, beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, and one of the most wonderful people I know. All this to say that as I helped pick out her first High School Dress Gown, and as I saw her beautiful stepmother take two plus hours helping her get ready, I realized how much God has blessed my life to have not only have placed a beautiful person like Hailey in my life, but to have also made her my daughter.
Life is good.