You didn’t help create them.
You didn’t hold my hand over the nine months as they formed.
You didn’t help pick their cribs, their names, or their first outfit.
You weren’t there at their birth.
You didn’t drive them home from the hospital.
You didn’t rock them to sleep over their first year of life.

You weren’t there when we, all three of us, said goodbye to the man who had done all of these things with so much love and happiness. He didn’t want to go, but he didn’t have a choice. He was gone the instant his plane hit the ground.

They were babies, and I was devastated.
I didn’t show it.
I showed strength, and to everyone watching, I was “an inspiration” but let’s call it what it was…. extreme, horrific, life-altering shock.

Doing what one has to do
Mama bear
My only choice

It’s inspiring to those who don’t have to live it, but to the rest of us, it’s just another day.

We grieved, in fact, we still do, it’s a forever part of who we are and who we become.

I worked on me, hard. I am still working on me.
I will continue to work until the day I leave this world.

I decided to make space for another, and by some stroke of insane luck, the universe gave me you.

From the first moments, you knew I was the widowed mother of two little children.
You didn’t run from the huge mountain that lay ahead and now that I know you so well, that doesn’t surprise me one bit. You never run from any challenge. You are the fiercest, strongest man I’ve ever known. Even with your strength, I’m not sure you realized how tall the mountain before you could be.

It’s hard to step into the space once held by a man that everyone adored. You did it with grace, class, quiet confidence, and love. You’ve never tried to replace, you know that’s not your journey, but instead, you’ve done your part of writing a future with me and our combined family.

You have already had triple the time in their life than their Dad ever got. You’ve cleaned more skinned knees, taught more sports, said thousands of more good nights, read countless more stories and kissed their heads as only a Dad can do. You have sat in nearly every parent-teacher conference, held my hand when they have asked the hard questions and told them you love them when they haven’t said it in return.

You didn’t help make them, but every day you make the hard choice to raise them as if you did.

They call you their “Dad on Earth” but really what you are is so much more than that…

The Urban Dictionary uses the following definition for the word Dad…

“The true man in your life that is there for you. Your Dad may also be your Father, but your Father may not be your Dad. Your Dad loves you, comforts you, supports you and helps you.”

So while you may not be their blood father, you are, in every sense of the word their Dad. It’s not a job you asked for the day we met, but it’s a job you’ve done so well. So while two little lives will forever grieve the man that helped create them and loved them so much, I know, from wherever he is watching, he couldn’t be more proud to have you step in and raise his children.

I won’t ever let them forget him, but I also won’t ever let them forget all you have done and all that you are.

The days, months, years of selfless choice, sports, homework, discipline, and sacrifice to raise children as your own.

You aren’t just their Dad on Earth.
You are their Dad, and we all love you.

Thank you for the selfless gift of fatherhood.

Read more from Michelle in her best-selling new book, Healthy Healing. www.healthyhealingbook.com