I wrote the following letter to Maisie & Camille on New Year's Eve 2013, the eve of their birth. It applies as well to Lela of course and the truth of these words has only grown over the last 7 (gasp!) years.
Who knew that grainy black and white images that most of the time I cannot make heads or tails of would melt my heart so completely? These images are all that I have seen for the past six months of you. But tomorrow I will get to see you (and hold you) in living color.
I wanted to write you this letter on the eve of your birth. I am not sure when (if ever) you will read it, but I wanted to put pen to paper (digitally of course) so that one day you might know what your dad was thinking and feeling the day before you were born and changed my life forever.
First off--forgive me if I struggle telling you apart at the beginning. You are identical twins after all. Other parents tell me I will be able to tell you apart and I trust them, but still...be patient if you can, it’s my first time having identical twin daughters. It will only be your first act in a lifetime of forgiving me!
I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow and hold you and look at your eyes. Whose eyes will you have? How much hair will you have? How the heck am I going to be a dad to two daughters? The nursery is all set for you for both. Who knew they made little mini-hangers? You have some cute little dresses on those hangers that will make it difficult for me to stay mad at you I think. I see how you girls get your dads wrapped around your fingers! I look at your cribs, and your nursery and know that I will spend many a night staying up with you, waking up with you, and just staring down at you as you sleep wanting to bottle it all up forever.
I haven’t even met you yet and I wonder about all the places you will go. As every parent says--they grow up too fast. I don’t think you two will be any different from that. It seems like just yesterday we found out you were in your mommy’s belly and now tomorrow you touch down on planet earth in all your beautiful messiness. I think about who will be become, what your personalities will be like. Will you love books like your dad? Or games like your mom? What will fascinate you and what will you become passionate about?
And let’s not even mention all the boys you are NOT going to date! I hope you like sweatpants and convents. This will be my prayer for you both! But just in case that doesn’t pan out, I pray you meet a man who loves you for who are, who will protect you and serve you, and be willing to give up his life for you. Wow, that last sentence was hard to type--you two getting married seems forever away, and yet time flies by and pretty soon I will be writing another one of these sappy letters on the eve of your wedding day. Jeez.
The truth is I have no idea what being a parent is really like, what being a father is really like. I have no idea what the years ahead will hold for all of us, all the great and glorious days and all the difficult and sad days that will make up our lives. I already want so much for you both and want you to know that everything I am doing is for you good, so that you might grow up to be women like your mom--full of love for the Lord, for all kinds of people, and for things that truly matter. I’m not perfect and I know that I will make a ton of mistakes. I hope, someday, you will be able to see my heart and how incredibly much I loved you.
And why do I love you you ask? Because you are my daughter. Not because of how smart you will be (though I know you will much smarter than me), not because of how beautiful you are (though I know you will be gorgeous girls inside and out), not because of anything you will achieve or do (thought I know you will achieve and do far more than I could ever dream for you both)--I love you first and foremost because you are mine, my daughters, my girls and nothing will ever change that.
So here’s to all that lies ahead. To the long nights, to the girl-crazy birthday parties, to the bath tub times, to the running in stroller times, to the teenage year fights and rolling of the eyes. To Thanksgivings and Christmases with two beautiful and messy families you are being born into, to hugs and snuggles, and tears and tantrums. To dancing together and watching football together (hopefully), to showing you the glory of the South and the power of a chicken quesadillas. To praying everyday that one day you will come to know the God of your father, a much greater Father who loves you far more deeply and perfectly than I ever could, and to these verses sinking into your souls-
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am convinced that the best part of my life is about to start and it’s all your fault. I hardly feel ready, but you didn’t ask me, you just decided to come and start your lives and I can’t wait to see what lives you girls will live.
One more thing before I go--and one I hope you will always know--
I love you because I love you.
Always have, always will.
See you tomorrow,