Letters to Taylor: On Your Birthday
My dear Taylor,
Happy Birthday in heaven. While I have no doubt that you’ve experienced an incredible party with Grandma Charlotte and many friends, I dreaded the actual day. One of the hardest places in grief is having the wisdom to know when to share the sorrow and tears and when to protect your daddy and brothers and sisters from my emotional tsunami.
I’ve had flashbacks of black frosting from Mickey Mouse cupcakes and Winnie the Pooh cake decorated with toys and pretty-in-pink Hello Kitty cake while thinking of your last days and last breaths. The combination of both happy and sad memories overwhelms my heart and I feel myself withdrawing from the daily demands of life.
Just when the waves of grief feel like they’ve evened out a bit, another landmark day or seasonal change crashes down. I never dreamed in January that I’d still feel as fragile as I do right now. I’m lost without you here. I’m so thankful for the Lord as my strength and for your daddy as my rock beside the Rock. And where would I be without your siblings? They are my blessings from the Lord and have no idea how much life they provide for me.
This weekend we all celebrated your life with a butterfly release. It was so beautiful to see each of your brothers and sisters open the envelope holding the butterfly and watch it fly away. The photos of the event take my breath away on many levels. But there is one photo that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.
Your Daddy Matt.
I saw a shirt on Sunday that said, “There’s no hood like fatherhood.” But oh, sweetie.
Your father is in the elite club. Can you see the agony of your father’s heart? The temporary defeat is real. He feels like he lost the battle for you and misses you beyond words.
The night after he carried your body down to the unmarked van so it could be transported to the funeral home, he lie beside me in bed, tears streaming down his cheeks, whispering in the dark, “I feel like I’m supposed to go get her. I’m her protector. This feels so wrong.” And we wept together.
This is a daddy who locks and doublechecks the doors every night. He walks by all the bedrooms of his children to check on them as his final act before lying down to rest. This is the daddy who rearranges his schedule with whatever flexibility he can muster so that he can be present for his children’s events and activities. This is what he has always done. Because he is a good father. A great father. A rare father.
There are so many movies that depict the lack of strong fathers. Stories of children whose daddies left them, articles about deadbeat dads who don’t support their children and fail to pay child support, much less spiritually guide them. Stories of men who fail their families, walk out on their responsibilities and forsake the honor of fatherhood. But I want to shout a different story.
Girl, you were one of the blessed ones. One who God gave a daddy to love and care for you faithfully for almost 20 years, though you were not his by blood. One whose daddy works crazy nightshift hours and long weeks with weekend hours to provide for his family. One who went through all the agony of watching you suffer, caring for you, loving you, only to experience losing you on this side of heaven.
I suppose the reason I weep over his picture is because I want others to see what I see. I want folks to know that he is a good, godly man who takes his responsibilities as sacred duties and tries his best to love as the heavenly Father loves us. That these strong , sometimes silent, steady men still exist today.
Your last name didn’t match his until December 31, 2018. So, he was never able to spend a birthday with you as his legal daughter. But one day he will. You’ll be able to tell him how wonderful and beautiful his love and care for you was. I can’t wait to see that.
Until then, happy birthday, my sweet girl. I know it was beyond earthly words and one day, we’ll all celebrate together again.
I love you.