There are two reasons for it, I think. Being a parent, you know, quietly, that your family will go on much longer than your own life. And when someone you love is in the military, you tend to think about mortality even more. You have no choice. Life is nothing if not unpredictable, and there are so many unexpected things that happen along this journey.
Because of this, I sometimes pause a minute and think about my daughter’s life, and what it would be if I were not in it. And if, for whatever reason, my story came to an end sooner than old age, there is so much I would want her to know.
Sometimes, long after I have kissed her goodnight, I slowly turn the doorknob and tiptoe back into her bedroom. I look at her small form curled up in the big crib, listen to the little breaths, and wonder what she is dreaming. I wonder if she will do the same when she has a daughter of her own. I wonder, too, if it’s possible to miss someone in Heaven. It has to be. I know I couldn’t watch her live her life and not ache to be near her.
There are so many things I want to convey to her; there are so many things that I need her to feel. I’d want to tell her about the unbelievable power of her smile, and how it can change hearts in a second. I would tell her that she is loved by many, many people, and that, for all of it, I will always love her more than anyone else ever could. I would tell her that she is beautiful and she is smart. I would tell her that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is strong and she will have an amazing impact on this earth.
I know there are many things I would never be able to explain, no matter how I tried. How can I show her how deeply I fell in love the first time I held her? How do I explain seeing her profile on the ultrasound and instantly missing someone I hadn’t met? And maybe, she could never fully know those things until she becomes a mother. Words aren’t adequate sometimes.
But, if I could only say a few words, they would be these: I love you. I love you. Sweet baby, how I love you.