I can’t believe you’re turning four years old in a few days. My little girl, my little baby girl…four. FOUR!
Before you came along everyone said to me,”Oh, you just wait and see. You have no idea what you’re in for, mister. You have no idea how much bigger your heart can grow.”
I believed them, but then again, you can’t truly believe stuff that is impossible to comprehend.
I knew that I would love you, but I didn’t really know what I was in for.
All alone, I walked along a trout stream high in the mountains a few months before you arrived and I made a pact with myself that I would never ever turn my back on you, no matter what.
Even if I get bounced by a train or broadsided by a freeway semi, I told myself, I will have to find a way back to her; to you, Violet.
I remember staring at the water and at the sky and the autumn peaks off in the distance and thinking about how you were rushing toward your mom and me with each fleeting moment. Somewhere out there in deep wild outer space, I pictured a little baby wrapped in a cheap old blanket blasting through the stars, soaring across the galaxy in a bassinet that moved as damn good as any Millenium Falcon ever did.
But I had no idea.
Now, you’re here.
Violet, you make me happier to be alive than I can possibly explain. Every day/fifty times a day, when the chaos and the madness start to peck at me with their sharp beaks, when the news of the world dips its toe into the dirty dishwater pool of mellow sadness that sloshes around inside of me and I begin, once again, to feel a little bit lost/a little bit uncertain about pretty much every damn thing I have ever done with my life, you always just appear.
And you plop a book into my lap and climb up without a word.
Or you dance in front of the TV to whatever music is pumping out of it, oblivious to the lovable fact that you are blocking every inch of my view.
Or you hear the word “chocolate” in some passing conversation and your eyes sparkle, your tiny lips stretching against their will, your smile like a wonderfully inevitable force of nature; I catch it all out of the corner of my eye and I want to buy you a Hershey’s Kiss the size of a baby elk.
So many nights, I feel you slide into the bed beside me and snuggle up to me under the big blanket where I’m sleeping. And there, even in my dreams, I think about the fact that I’m probably supposed to gently guide you back to your own bed in your own room, because that’s what parents are supposed to do, I guess. But I never do.
Well, I did once.
I took you back across the 3AM hall and laid you there on your Pillow Pet (ladybug!) and you didn’t say a word, really, but your exhausted little eyes seemed so disappointed that I had returned you back to where you started out.
Ugh. I couldn’t sleep then. How weird is that? A grown man couldn’t sleep because of a middle-of-the-night look from a toddler was all up in his conscience.
Six minutes later I came back in and you were lying there, your weary eyes opened halfway. What a sack of potatoes you were, kid. But I could feel your heart lift when I scooped you back up without a word.
The thing is, I know it won’t be long until you won’t come looking for me much in the middle of the long cold night. As the years march on, I know I’ll lose you here and there, in little ways that will always seem big to me. So, I try my best to be there as much as I can in the here and now.
Violet, listen here. There is no way that I could possibly explain to you what you mean to me. It would take a jar full of Saturn rings and flying eagles and baby lambs and raging blizzards. I would need to lasso a desert sandstorm just to give you a rough idea of the power that your gap-toothed grin has over me. And I’d have to suck up at least two or three of the bigger seas with a turkey baster and let lightning throw me around the yard on some hot summer evening to even begin to lay it all out for you.
Even then, knowing me, I’d come up a little short.
I guess that I just need to tell you that I love you.
And that I’m proud of you, so damn proud of you and the way you spell your own name, V-I-O….L-E-T! I beam at the way you play with your little brother when you are in the right mood for that, the way you guys throw your tiny knights at the Fisher-Price castle together, as if the dragons laying on their wings down in the carpet were really out to get you and you were saving each other from them.
When I hear your voice coming through the door of your bedroom, talking to your books, making up stories that are better than the ones that are already written down in there, Violet, all of my blues melt away. Everything makes sense then. At least for as long as I am hearing your puny words.
No one has ever been able to do that for me before, kiddo.
No one has ever stolen my heart the way that you have.
And I don’t have the slightest idea in the world how to thank you. But I’m gonna spend the rest of my days pretending I do.
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