(Don with the girls, 2020)
As a new widow with a toddler and a baby on the way, I grieved particularly hard for my babies in the loss of their Daddy. Chris had been a wonderful father. He’d been particularly worried about his ability to be a good dad, as he’d been raised for the last several years of his childhood in a single-mom home. He read books on being a good dad and sought the advice of a friend of ours at church who was also a dad to girls. Chris loved reading to Abbi, playing with her, watching her grow, even changing her diapers. He was smitten with his baby girl.
After the unthinkable happened, I spent many lonely heartbroken hours with swirling anxious thoughts about raising kids on my own. No matter how capable I might be as a mother, I knew that I could never be a dad. I thought, too, about how different my parenting might be if I had a spouse to help carry the load.
(Chris and Abbi, 3/2013)
Then along came Don. We’ve been married nearly six months now. We are so blessed to have him in our lives. He was an experienced father long before he met me or the little girls I birthed. He stepped right in helping me with them even early in our dating. Once the court systems are able to take “non-urgent” cases again, he will become their legal father. All the preliminary steps to the adoption have gone through.
When Don first started coming around, the girls called him by his first name. As the months wore on, they began occasionally calling him “Dad” or “Daddy”. In the last two weeks, it has been that almost exclusively. It’s really sinking in that he is here to stay—to love them, protect them, care for them—every single day. I cannot adequately express in words what it does to my previously shattered heart when I hear them ask about Daddy coming home and I know there’s a living man on the other end of that thought.
Last night, Don let the little girls sleep in a tent in our backyard, with him there to keep them safe. He probably didn’t sleep a wink, but to see their excitement over this, he was willing to make the sacrifice. Abigale said, “This is the best day of my life!” as she walked to the tent for the night. This warmed my heart so much—not only seeing the joy in the faces of our girls, but also as I fondly remembered my dad doing the same for us decades ago.
(Don and Abbi, 3/2020)
Chris would have done the same thing with our daughters… he and I loved camping, hiking, and spending time in the outdoors. He would be happy to see the way Abigale and Aurora are fathered in his absence. He is spoken of frequently and we keep photos of him up in the house. He will not (and could not) be forgotten.
Don has added to our lives without taking anything away from our origins. My heart is happy and blessed in ways I never foresaw. The Lord has truly taken my wailing and turned it to dancing; taken my ashes and replaced them with beauty.
(Don, Aurora, & Nevaeh, 2020)