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To My Husband, Who Fights for Every Inch of Our Daughter's Life

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Two times we thought we lost her. Both times I stood in the other room clutching our other baby.  Pounding my chest, screaming on the phone for the 911 operator to send help. Send help!

Meanwhile, you got her medicine, administered it, gave her mouth-to-mouth and then the firefighters and the ambulance arrived and lifted the weight of our baby from you. I always feel such relief when they arrive; we are not solely responsible anymore. But the reality is since Isla began having seizures, you have been the one that has saved her repeatedly.

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When the waves got so big they were crashing all around us and I thought for sure our boat was sinking you’ve stayed the course. You’ve kept paddling till we found a space where the water was calmer and the storm subsided.

You’re an amazing dad for so many reasons that are far less dramatic, but your fatherhood has been forged in fire. That fire is what has defined your role.

So, even when we’ve reached the calmer waters, we’ve already dipped our toes into that abyss, and now it’s always there somewhere lingering. We can never un-see it.

I know, my love, that it comes in your nightmares, the inability to be out to dinner with me and completely relax, the feeling that you need to sleep but you never fully do, the wondering if the medicine that is completely altering our baby is worth the trade-off for keeping the seizures at bay. The knowing that one human error on our part and it’s over. You carry it with you, always. We hold that together.

But there is a gift in that and we share that secret gift together. We live a little differently now. We have this little being who is constantly reminding us that none of us are promised a tomorrow. She reminds us that all we have is the moment we are in, so in the late hours of the afternoon you play guitar and I make up lyrics about our little daughter Isla as she listens with glee to her life story as told by her parents. This secret we hold reminds us of our priorities and allows for what we cannot hold to wash away. This secret keeps you and I as teammates, as my sister foreshadowed when she performed a famous sport speech from “Any Given Sunday” as part of her wedding toast to us.

“You know when you get old in life things get taken from you. That’s part of life. But, you only learn when you start losing stuff. You find that life is a game of inches, the margin for error is so small. I mean one half step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it… The inches we need are everywhere around us… You gotta look at the person next to you. Look into their eyes. Now I think you are going to see a person who will go that inch with you. You are going to see a person who will sacrifice themself for this team because they knows when it comes down to it, you are going to do the same for them.”

I hadn’t a clue that so early on in our lives together the words my sister shared would resonate so deeply between us. This is the only way it will ever work, the only way we survive, the only way Isla thrives.

dad with his daughter on his shoulders in field
Isla and her dad.

You and me, we have this little being who has taken us to the highest highs and the lowest lows. We are living, we are really living. The days aren’t going by unmarked. 

I see you standing there being a dad. I see you standing in that with your feet firmly planted, and I know your feet are like my feet: They like to move, they like to run and leap, yet there you are standing steady. I see you fighting for those inches for us. It’s your eyes I’m looking in. You’re the person. Watching you be a father to our girls, I love your more than I ever thought possible.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Write a thank you letter to someone you realize you don’t thank enough. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 15, 2016
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