Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dear Lila

     THIS. This is the hardest part. Our girls. I cannot even begin to put into words how heavy I feel in my heart, soul and physical being when that paralyzing "wave" of reality hits me...

Our girls will not know, or even remember, their daddy.
(God, that's hard to say.)

I have decided they call it a "wave" because that's exactly what it is. Just as if you were standing out in the surf of the Pacific, trying to enjoy the sun. The sounds of water crashing begin to all run together, your senses are numbed and you're left without warning. Unaware, you gaze into the horizon, only for your feet to be knocked out from under you with full force. Before you can steady yourself, you're under water... and you're drowning. You don't know which way to the surface, and the salty water burns inside your nose and then invades your lungs. You can no longer breathe. All your limbs thrash around desperate to save your life, but you're no match for the force of Mother Nature. The wave has already broken and taken you under with it. It feels 
 It is so shockingly painful and surreal to me, so I try to run from it. But it still comes for me; it still finds me unaware in that surf; and then it leaves me empty, breathless and crying on the floor. I cry for him, I cry for me, I cry for them, I cry for what should have been; what was supposed to be. If he knew this was their reality, he would feel the greatest sadness he's ever known. I say that with certainty.
                                                 (photo by

So today I want to tell Lila about what a great daddy she has watching over her. Don't worry, Harper. I haven't forgotten you.

Dear Lila,
One day years from now, you will be able to read this letter and when you do, I hope you will feel your daddy with you. I want you to know he would never leave you willingly. He did not want to go. But he had to. I cannot tell you exactly why, but I pray that one day God will show us. Your daddy wanted to be there for all your firsts. We talked about them often. You gave him a lot of firsts, too. In 2011, you were born and you showed him a love not everyone gets to feel.

He became a different person after you came into his life. He stopped being so stubborn and reckless. He was all about you. 110%. He got up with you at night when you would cry. He played with you for hours and then held you while you slept.

He was a very proud papa! We had plans to take you to the same pumpkin patch each year. I will still take you and I think he will meet us there.

 He worked REALLY hard to provide for you. We even decided right after you were born that an apartment wasn't cutting it and that you deserved a house. So, we built you one. 

Is that a baby in a bar?

You even got to be our flower girl at our wedding, because mommy and daddy may or may not have done things a little out of order. 

He would drive all over town to several different stores just to find the exact toy we wanted you to have. 

 He loved Auburn football and he played with you as if he were a child too. Because, let's face it, he was.

He was the one who introduced you to your new little sister in 2013.

He liked to scare us both when he would toss you around.

He read you bedtime stories over and over again. You heard "Goodnight Moon" no less than 1000 times.

 And he really liked to take you to this park and wave at the ducks from your pink car. He always wanted to go to that park. So we tried to take you every Sunday in the morning, before it got crowded. You would wave and say "Hi ducks!!" He thought that was the cutest thing, so he said it all the time, too.

 He would even crawl into your princess play tent with you and take selfies.

He loved you so much, more than any dad I have ever known. Most nights after you would fall asleep, we would look at all the cute pictures and videos we had captured of you that day. We constantly talked about how funny you were and the new words you were saying (our favorite was your curious word for Popsicle; "ab-o-dee"), what you were learning, and cute things you were picking up. He told me many times how unexpected this relationship was to him. That he had never known he could love someone so much; that he never knew it would be so fun. He would let you jump on top of him, bowl him over and crawl on him until you were tired. You and he would jump on our bed at night before your bedtime, and he looked forward to taking you to gymnastics for the "mommy and me" class on Saturday mornings. 

My new wish for you is that you always know that you changed his life and that he was so happy to walk in the front door to your little face everyday. You would light up and yell "Daddy!!!!!!" while running full speed into his arms. He would yell back "Lila!!!!!" and throw you up as high as he could. It sounds like I'm making that up, doesn't it? Sounds too good to be true? Like a TV show? Or just something mommy made up for a blog post? No, child. I promise you it's the truth. It was real. You made him smile everyday.




  1. Once again you brought me to tears. I am so glad you have so many beautiful photos to go along with those beautiful memories you will be able to share with your daughters. It is not fair that he is not around in their life on earth, but both girls have a guardian angel following them throughout their lives! Keep those memories alive for your girls and for you! Hang in there Claire! You have such a beautiful soul

  2. I am also the daughter of a good man that tragically left his family way too soon, my soul aches for you & your girls. I was two years old.
    Tell them about their daddy often, answer the million questions they will ask about him-even when it hurts to remember him, & save some of his favorite things-they will feel close to him when you pass these items onto them. Even though he is gone, they can still get to know him, cry for him(& they will), feel his presence in their lives, if you keep his memory alive.
    They will undoubtedly appreciate the new man that you will someday come to love, they will feel their fathers presence with them on their wedding day, & will respect YOU for your strength as you carry on in the wake of such an unfair turn in your lives.
    I am a stranger to you but would like to offer heartfelt support, I live in Fort Worth if you need a pal that truly knows what this feels like....

  3. Even though you cant being him back having the photos and videos along with the memories will keep him alive. Its not fair for those girls to have lost their dad specially at such a young age. You're a great mom Claire and doing a great job.

  4. My daughter was 2 1/2 years old when her Daddy passed away. She is almost 8 now and still remembers him and we talk about him. Your baby girls will not forget. I am so sorry for your loss. :'(

  5. Keep writing Claire. Peace and understanding will come with time, and expressing yourself with written words will bring light to your journey.

  6. Your words will be a treasure to your girls someday. I am sure you will also bring comfort to others that have experienced something similar in their life. I hope that it is helping you in some way as well.

  7. As I read your words it floods my memories of my journey of losing my husband to a 13 month battle of pancreatic cancer. My children were much older and our journey was somewhat different, but I know what you mean when you say "surreal". I couldn't begin to count the times I said, "I can't believe He is gone." I am a friend of Tailer's. Know that I am praying for you. One thing I can promise, is that you will find so many gifts in this journey. In His Grip!

  8. Claire, I understand how helpful it can be to write about your story. I wanted to make sure you knew of another online community that was created by one of my acquaintances after his wife passed away. Perhaps some of their stories will help you.

  9. I've come across your blog and have read every post. I'm not sure what to say except my heart breaks for y'all. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.