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daddy's little angel
2003-12-29 | 4:09 p.m.

She would have been his first. And he loved her already even though he’d yet to see her, or hold her. She would have been the first for all of us . . . first child, first grandchild, first niece. We all loved her and we all anticipated her birth. And on that day, when she was born and she died, we all felt the pain and the aching sense of loss.

But I never realized how deeply my brother still carried the scar of the little girl that he was only able to hold for a few hours. He was ready to be a father. He had grown and matured in the few years since his marriage. He had his life in order, his priorities finally straightened out, his attitude in check, and in his heart he was already a daddy. But, for reasons that we’ll never understand, that little girl was never to be ours.

The doctors were certain. She would not live more than a week. And her short life would be painful. They decided, unselfishly, as parents should, to terminate the pregnancy. What the doctors didn’t say was that she would be born with her little heart beating, and that it would be hours before she was gone. My brother held her until her little life faded away.

Even though I didn’t think it was possible, my heart broke even further when I saw my brother cry. He did as all grieving parents do, he cried, he asked the unanswerable why, he yelled in anger. But after a while, he seemed better. “Fine,” he’d say when we’d ask him how he was doing. I was proud of him for being strong, for being a good husband to his grieving wife, for handling things so well.

This weekend I saw how permanently he still carries the pain . . . on his chest is a tattoo of a beautiful cherub . . . “Daddy’s Little Angel,” it says, “Ayanna Mia, October 7, 2000.” I am proud of him all over again.

Listening To:

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