I suppose everyone has those indelible days that are permanently etched in both heart and mind that cannot be faded by the passage of time.
For me, today is one of those days.
Though the past 24 have passed in what seems like a blink of the eye, I can vividly recall every detail of what transpired on Aug. 8, 1988 as if it happened yesterday.
It was one of the best — and worst days of my life.
It was the day I first met my daughter, Emily Nicole. Due to complications with the delivery, it was a very short meeting as doctors and nurses rushed her out of the delivery room to the neonatal ICU ward down the hall. Instead of holding her in my arms during her first day of life, all I could do is hold my wife’s hand and pray that God would give her a chance to experience life. Though I’ve been in a few tight spots during my life, until the moment the doctor told us she might not make it, I had never experienced absolute fear.
Of all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, the one I am most grateful for came nearly a week later when the doctors told us she was out of the woods.
From the first moment I was able to hold her in my arms, Emily has and always shall be my little girl. I know that sounds trite, especially now that she’s a grown woman, but she’s my only daughter.
As the years have passed, there are snapshots of her that are frozen in time, Kodak moments etched in my heart that remind me of how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to have her in my life.
I still see that 4-year-old with a big smile posing for photos in her blue tutu before her first dance recital.
Or the sixth-grader who begged me to let her have a puppy. Her mom deferred the decision to me. In my attempt to solve the dilemma with Solomon-like wisdom, I told her she would have to write a five-page essay on how she would take care of the dog. I thought that would be that. I woke up the next morning to find a five-page report, neatly written and double spaced, sitting on bedside table.
She named her dog Cupid. It was a mixed breed — part dog and part kangaroo. For the first five years Cupid jumped the backyard fence every time we let her outside. I think Cupid has a little greyhound in her, too, because she could be on the other side of the neighborhood quicker than I could turn my head around to realize she was gone. At least I got to know the animal control officers on a first name basis.
And a few years later, I never forget when Emily moved away to college. Those first few weeks were really difficult for me — and Cupid, too. We both had trouble walking passed Emily’s empty room knowing that special person in our life that we were used to seeing every day wasn’t there.
Now my baby girl has a baby girl of her own.
There are times when I hold my granddaughter in my arms and look into her eyes. She is so much like her mother. She has the same temperament, the same smile that melts your heart and wraps her tiny little hand around your finger you know that you would do anything in the world to keep her safe and secure.
It’s the same way I felt when I first held Emily in my arms.
On behalf of a father who feels blessed, I am overjoyed to say today: “Happy birthday Emily Nicole.” You are a remarkable young woman and a terrific mom and I am very proud of you. Though you may be 24 today, you will always be my little girl.
Neal White is the Editor of Waxahachie Newspapers Inc. Contact Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469-517-1457. Follow Neal on Facebook at Neal White - Waxahachie Newspapers Inc.