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My Greatest Gift

If anyone had asked me 10+ years ago if I had a fulfilled life, I would have said yes. I would have had no other reason to think differently. I had a great job, a great husband, and didn’t really want for anything. On October 30th, 2001 at exactly 4:25am, I learned that I had been terribly wrong about that. It was at that precise moment that I learned what it meant to truly be fulfilled…when I first laid eyes on that beautiful 6 pound, 13 ounce miracle we had made: Alyssa Nicole.

Today she is 10…Double Digits…and I find it hard to believe. I feel like I just heard her cry for the first time. I feel like the nurses just handed her to us for the first time, all swaddled up, so Rob and I could marvel in amazement at this perfect little being who was now our whole world. I feel like we just counted her fingers and toes. How could that possibly have been ten years ago?

In the past ten years, she has taught me more than any book or other person ever has. She has taught me what it feels like to have one person to be the center of my entire universe. She has taught me to be a better person. She has taught me how to be stronger than I could ever imagine. She has taught me to have patience when I need it the most, and want to the least. She has taught me to look at the world through her eyes in that innocent way that I had forgotten all about before she reminded me. Most of all, she has taught me that time flies by faster than I had ever noticed before. I wish she could teach me how to make it stop…or at least slow it down a little.

She is our only child. Over the years she has asked why, and the best response I can give her is that we got it right the first time. I truly mean those words when I say them to her. To us, she has been everything we could hope for: smart, kind-hearted, caring, funny, confident, and determined. We have watched her grow up for the past ten years with pride, and we can only hope the next ten years are just as wonderful.

What she doesn’t know is the tiny bit of sadness that I feel every time she reaches a new accomplishment. Every “first” for her is also a “last” for me. Since she is it for us, we only get those little joys once: first cry, first tooth, first day of school…even her first hit in a softball game. As she has gotten older, she asks why I make a big deal over what are seemingly tiny things that she does for the first time. Well, that’s exactly why…but she doesn’t need to know that. As long as she knows she has two parents who will always be there to celebrate her firsts, both big and small, I’m content.

So here she is…TEN. Technically a “Tween”, I guess. It’s tough on me, but it’s a really big deal for her. So today we will celebrate her birthday, make a bigger deal out of this birthday than any other, watch her blow out 10 candles and gleefully open her gifts…and tonight when she is asleep, I will tiptoe into her room and stare at her in amazement…just like I did 10 years ago…feeling fulfilled… because SHE is my greatest gift.

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