I woke up today and went in your room to try to rouse you. There are only a few more days of school left, so I promised you could sleep as late as you want, and of course you won't. I remember not long ago, when I asked you "Why are you awake so early when you don't have school?" And you said, "Because. I don't want to miss the fun!"
Up until this moment, I never really considered those words. I think they adequately describe your spirit.
8 years ago, Mommy and I were confident we had plenty of time before your arrival. You, however, had other ideas and shocked us by coming into our lives 21 days early, on June 2nd, instead of the 23rd due date.
Growing up, I always thought there comes a time when you simply attain all the knowledge you are going to need, and I thought I already had that moment.
But the second the nurse put you in my arms, I knew I hadn't learned nearly enough.
I learned to laugh again. I learned to see things as though for the first time. I learned that no heart is big enough to contain all the love I feel for you. I learned to hope again. I learned that your little smiles, your first words, those first few steps were a more significant triumph than all the accolades in the world.
I learned to have fun again.
You taught me so much in your first years, Kendra Marie. There are times when I can barely remember what my life was before you came along. I can't even recall whether it was good or bad. In essence, fatherhood's taught me to live again.
When I write my characters, I imagine their childhood, their parents, their life as kids. It's a great way to give them depth, to know them as well as I know myself.
If you were a novel, kiddo, it's the best I've ever read, and I'm only starting chapter 8.
You've gone from a quiet, studious little toddler, to a formidable debater. I can no longer trick you into thinking the moon is made of cheese (even though it is) because even as of chapter 6, you were smart enough to check with Mommy, knowing she'd give you a straight answer. You even took the time to counsel me on the error of my ways.
I narrated much of your story in those earlier chapters, but now the pen is in your left hand and this story is yours to tell. I'm demoted to the background as the rock where you can always lean on, as the sage who will always guide you. These next chapters are yours.
But I love what I helped you write and I often go back and read it again, and before I know it, I get to the page you're working on.
It's staggering to witness the changes in you. It's amazing to constantly wonder where you're heading with your story.
You now have very little of the baby I held eight years ago. Now you're tall and your voice is strong and confident. You possess such grace and elegance in your movements, it's almost hard to believe you're just a kid. You have no problem exerting your will, and you defend your arguments with the tenacity of a well-prepared attorney. You have an unwavering focus when you paint, when you do your homework, when you play. You have an understanding of right and wrong that defies logic.
You invited over a girl who picked on you and made you cry, because you figured if you got to know each other better, you'd be friends. Kendra Marie, me you're by far a bigger person than I would've been at that age. That idea was yours and yours alone and I remember Mommy and I lying in bed, mute in awe of your maturity.
You know how to laugh, God! You know how to laugh!
You've made this world of ours a prettier place with nothing more than your smile, and you're growing more beautiful each and every day.
I can't write enough about the pride I feel when I look at you. I wish I could take the credit for the kind of person you've become over these eight years.
And your story keeps getting better.
Just when I think I will burst from so much emotion, you'll do something else that makes my heart swells with love.
Keep writing your story, baby girl. It's the best tale I've ever read. I can't wait to see what happens next. I don't want to miss the fun!
Loving you always,