Today is my daughter’s fourth birthday!

I remember when we found out that we were having a third child. Between the stress of work, the stress of school (I was in seminary at the time), the stress of kids, and the general stress of life, circumstances led me to put my fist through a door. Not my finest moment!

“We thought we were done at two!” How many times have you heard that said before? But God had other plans and after having two boys, we were blessed with a girl.

Not too long after we found out that we were having our third child, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I wept like a baby when I got that news, knowing that the outlook was not very good but still remaining hopeful. Even before I knew that we were going to have a daughter, I got a sneaking suspicion that it was going to be a girl.

Once we found out for sure that it would be a girl, I began to see the way that things were lining up. My mother had always wanted a daughter, but she had two boys. I realized that there would be a race for time to see whether or not Mom would live long enough to meet her granddaughter. I think that she willed herself to die before she had the chance. I think it would have been too much for her to have met this little girl that she had dreamed of and who she would only be able to spend a short amount of time getting to know.

Just two months and three days after my mom died, my daughter was born. September 22nd, 2011. My mom’s birthday was September 11th and I found it interesting that my daughter was born when she was. My daughter came into the world with all the spunk and determination of her grandmother. She is funny, smart, determined, moody, playful, and so much more. She is my little princess.

Every day, when I look at her, I see my wife, I see my mother, I see myself. I wonder what might have been had my mother lived, yet I know that the legacy of my mom lives on in this little blonde-haired beauty. There are times when I wonder if my mom can see what’s happening because I think that if she could, she’d be smiling if not downright laughing at just who this little girl is becoming and what a gift she is to those around her.

Today, I celebrate this gift. Before we had children, I wanted a daughter, but after having two sons, I was perfectly content with them. Now that I have a daughter, the world just looks different, brighter. Not that my sons didn’t brighten the world, but little girls are just different.

Happy birthday to my little princess, the one I adore. She is a gift to me and always reminds me of the bittersweet moments in life, the moments we lose, the moments we gain, the moments we find ourselves struggling for answers in the midst of the pain. I am so grateful for this gift of a daughter and I can’t wait to see how she grows. Four years into life, I think it’s going to be a wild ride!

Happy birthday, sweet girl. I love you!

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