And a letter to my darling Emma Grace.

I just wanna say on the outset here, that I have been so blessed by, not only our real life friends, but also my online audience. For as ugly as my story sometimes was, people have been kind. Most people don’t know most of the story, not even our families, and that is completely ok. I don’t think we need to tell the whole world every detail of our lives in order to get our story across, but there are moments when I wonder if people would accept me and our families if they knew the whole story.

Whenever you are family with an addict you already have lost so much dignity that you tend to not care what people think of you. Steve’s family recently relayed it as, “we have nothing else to hide and nothing else to lose.” Dignity, failures, achievements. It all fades away when you’ve been lied about, torn apart, and perhaps physically abused or treated like trash.

I trust my core friends. They stood by me through some really unsettling issues and they always stood by my integrity when the lies were rolling around. I’m saying this because at the time of Emma’s birth – things were really bad. I will never hide this from Emma (part of the reason for this post), and I know it will be one of the issues in life she will have to wade through. This breaks my heart. It would break her heart more if I hid from her the truth.

It was around this time that Steve was saying that I had cheated on him and that Emma was not really his daughter. If that freaks you out to read it, you can imagine how much more humiliating it is to type it out and tell it to your daughter. That her father would have been such a man. To blame something so outrageous on his wife and her mother. When he himself was the one who carried such disgraces. BUT BUT BUT. That is not where the story ends or starts. It was not the first time the blame was misplaced. It would not be the last. And he was not saying these things to me because I was not communicating directly with his at this time. He was saying it to our friends and families. I don’t know who all he was saying this to.

Her daddy is Steve and his name is on her birth certificate and he loved her to the moon and back. His little girl. She was the one who would not let go of him when he dropped them back off from visiting. She was the one who always gave him kisses and hugs. She was the one who knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who her father was. And she accepted him with love and happiness and absolute joy. She has been our anchor from day one and we have all looked to her for our own sense of joy throughout all of this. I still do.

Emma: ‘whole. strong. complete’.

Grace: ‘God’s unmerited favor’.

She is exactly what her name says she is. And she is also JOY. Happiness is second nature to her. She wakes up happy and goes to bed happy. She is a normal three year old and has her moments but she is just naturally a happy content child.

Because, of everything, I made it clear that he was not invited to her birth. I don’t know if he would have come or not had I given him the choice, but I didn’t give him a choice. He did come to visit a few times, but I didn’t allow him to come alone.

I don’t remember all the details. I forget how some of the timeline comes together. There was a period of time after she was born that I allowed him to come to the house to pick up the children. Then I had to cut it off again. Then there were a bunch more awful things that happened. He moved to Maryland 6 months before his passing and we were grateful. We were confident he would not drive an hour to pick up his children if he was high or intoxicated. He cancelled many many times in that six months. Three to Four months before he passed he found a way to get in touch with me directly and made it clear, once again, that he loved me, he wanted to make things right, AND his intention was to find freedom from drugs and alcohol once again.

The journey of an addict is multifaceted. Complicated. Almost beyond the comprehension of those of us who have never been addicted. Have never done drugs. I don’t think we get it. Our love for him covers all of his things. Because we knew he was in pain. We knew he was in a struggle for his life.

I knew he was losing, and I was helpless to know what to do.

One of the reasons I allowed him to talk to me again was the children. “Daddy just sent me a message. He says he misses you very much. He loves you and cannot wait to see you again.”

Right after he used was when he was the kindest, but then he was unable to come to them. He was unable to come to us. So, we would talk. I am forever grateful for these few months we had to talk with him. Some of the most precious conversations happened during this time. The children won’t remember them but I am sure it has made an impact on them in some way.

And maybe you are thinking… This is Emma’s birth. This is about Emma being born….. welcome to the world of addiction. Where nothing is about what is actually going on. The real world is inconsequential. And, sadly, they think the world is revolving around them. Newborn or not. So – I am going to conclude this post by writing a letter to my Emma Grace. Because that is how I really felt, regardless of what was going on around us.

Emma was conceived at a time when Steve was doing really well. But, that changed dramatically with something that happened at work, or maybe it was just his addiction, and for about five days we lived in limbo, not knowing what was going on. And then one night he disappeared into the night and I decided I was going to take Jaxon and make sure we were somewhere safe by the time he would get back. I never intended to not come back. I never knew it would end like it did but I didn’t have much of a choice. Becoming a mother helped to draw some very hard lines in the sand and this was one of those moments. In the next few weeks I suspected I was pregnant but had lost complete track of all time and space. I finally had the time one evening after work to stop at a grocery store and purchase a test. I was already two months along with my darling baby girl.

Just 5 short months after giving birth to Jaxon I was pregnant again. I was overwhelmed, first of all, but secondly of all, I thanked the Lord for once again giving me the kick in the butt I needed to be the wife who would not enable her husband to be an addict. Looking back… I don’t know how I made it through. That is how life often is, isn’t it? We are given grace in the hard times to walk through things we never thought possible. Once again, people around me picked me up and carried me through and without all of these people, I have no idea what I would have done, or where I would have ended up. I was one of the lucky ones.

My Dearest Emma,

My little love. I cannot believe I get to be your mommy. Grandma says that you came out beautiful and smiling. This is just who you are. It’s as if God looked down on our little lives and decided that we needed an Emma Grace. He knew exactly what his plan was for you from the minute he created you, and I have been overwhelmed by your personality of grace, acceptance , and joy that you are. You are so strong. When you were in my belly, you rarely held still. Strong kicks and punches to my rib cage were always a welcome reminder that you were in there.. growing … and just waiting to come out. I loved you long before you were born. I have always felt a strong connection to you and I am so so so glad that I get to do life with you. Every day. Your radiant smile and sparkling blue eyes are exactly what the world needs more of. I love you so much.

Emma, there is gonna come a time when you realize that your daddy was not at your birth. He was not there when you were born. Grandma was there with us, and that is probably why she is your best friend. She was one of the first faces you ever saw. But, just because daddy wasn’t there, did not mean he didn’t want to be. He loved you. He was so excited to meet you and he picked out your name for you. He spent time praying for you and he was so happy that now he would have a little girl! He came to the hospital to see you two times before we were released and each time he just stared at your beautiful little face. The miracle of your life was so overwhelming to him. How could God give him something so good that he totally did not deserve? An innocent child who could do nothing for herself. He loved you. His most urgent messages to mommy always said to give Emma a big kiss from her daddy. It hurt his heart that he could not be there for you every single day and night, but he was trying very hard to fight off some very big demons so that one day he could be with you every single day and every single night. For a while after you were born, daddy could not take you with him because you were nursing. But very soon you were a big enough girl to get to go in the car with him and Jaxon. You always wanted to go and mommy loved to see you excited to go with daddy! Every time he dropped you off you gave him the biggest hugs and the last two times you were with your daddy, you did not want to let him go. It was as if you knew you were not going to see him again. This was so good for me to see because it helped me to know that you felt loved by him and that you wanted to be with him. So, that last time daddy drove away, I held you, and we stood there and waved as his red truck drove away. That is what you wanted, but you have no idea how much that as helped me to process the day that daddy died.

There are many times when I wish you still had daddy here with you. Because I see how you love to be held by paw – paw and grandpa and your uncles, too. You beg to snuggle and to be held by the men in your life and I know you miss the feeling of being held by the strong arms of daddy. I’m so thankful for them but sweetie, I know that nothing will replace the love of your own father. I’m so sorry. There will be so many times in your life when your heart is breaking cause he is not here. There is nothing I can do about that but to teach you all about your Heavenly Father and how much he loves you and sees you. You are never alone and God is near to the brokenhearted. Sweetie, you are surrounded by two loving families that care for you very very much. Lots of cousins and aunt and uncles who will always look out for you. And, you have me. Every night when your warm little body snuggles close to mine I pray over you in the quiet of the night. I want you to remember your daddy somehow. I have no idea how you ever would but I know God can help you with that. To remember a feeling or a time. Just a glimpse. I pray that you can comprehend how much you are loved. By the rest of us. I pray that you will remember his never ending kisses for you and how gently he would carry you on his shoulders. You were his sunshine, my love. You showed him love in a time when he needed it most. I pray that when you look in the mirror and you see your own eyes. Your jet black eyelashes and eyebrows, and you would know that you got that from daddy. You also have his smile. The wide- open- embrace-the- whole- world- from -the- inside-out-smile. And, you know what? When daddy was little he was just like you. Carefree and happy. You carry so much of him and I love to see that in my little girl.

I love you so much sweetheart, and I love looking at these photos because you were a beautiful little delightful baby right from the start. I am so happy to be your momma. You and I were so happy to finally meet each other, and this time we had in the hospital was really really special. When you look around you and see other little girls with their daddies, remember that your daddy loved you more than anything, and he is loving you straight from heaven every single moment of your life. -Mommy

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