Happy. Sad. Joy. Sorrow. Smiles through the tears. Pride through the pain. All part of the life of a widowed parent. On one of my girls’ birthdays, this paradox seems to follow me even more closely. This week my baby turned 13. The day she was born, Wing was at work. I drove myself in labour to the hospital and laboured on my own till he arrived. He couldn’t leave work. Not when he had a responsibility to his patients. None of the nurses thought he would make it in time if he didn’t. But Sara, being a Daddy’s girl from the start, waited. 8 minutes after he walked in the door, she came into the world. I can’t believe that was 13 years ago. I can’t believe this is the 8th year that day has come and gone without him. I can’t believe how much that still hurts. I guess some days just always will.
But I also can’t believe how much our lives have changed in those eight years; how much she has changed. My once shy little girl who clung to her daddy is now a vibrant, socially active teenager who accepts with grace what life has thrown at her and who accepts and gives love unconditionally. Our lives are good again. They are full. We are blessed, and we are loved.
Does that make me happy? Immeasurably so.
So why am I sad?
Because I miss the man who helped me bring her into the world. I miss all those moments that we shared. I am crushed by all the moments that have come since that he could not share. There is a disbelief that we have made it this far. That yet another milestone has been crossed. That so much more of her life has been lived without him than was with him. That there are so many things that he would not know about her now. And so many things that she no longer remembers about him. The immensity of that makes it hard to breathe.
As I watched her on her birthday, surrounded by the love of the family, we have become the sadness and the sorrow, and the pain were there with me. A longing for what would never be. But there was also an appreciation of what she is and what she has become and a realization that those old companion emotions do not diminish the happiness and the joy and the pride. They enrich them. Make them more real. More meaningful. More heartfelt for being hard-fought. For all of us. For her.