Allison, hard to believe that it’s been ten years since we first met. I always envisioned telling you the story every year on your birthday. I’m sure by now you would have been sick of hearing it. I’m not talking about the day you were born. There was too much going on then with all the doctors and nurses surrounding you. I’m not talking about later that night either when you were on the ventilator.
I’m talking about the next day when we came to see you in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. You were hooked up to the ECMO machine. We were on one of the top floors at Children’s. Outside the window we could see Forest Park all covered in snow. Your mom and I had spent a sleepless night worrying about you. But when we came to see you in the morning, everything had calmed down. You were lying there hooked up with wires and tubes and bandages. That was when we formally met. I’m sure you don’t remember because you were taking some pretty heavy duty drugs at the time. But I sure remember it.
I had my camera with me a lot those first few days. I had it with me the first time you saw me. That’s when I took this picture of you. I always wondered what you must have been thinking when you opened your eyes and saw me standing over you with the camera in your face.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot these past few days. I try to imagine what you would look like now. Every time I see a girl around the same age that you would be, I stop and stare. I wonder if that’s how you might have looked.
I see a lot of kids at the airport, traveling with their parents. I sometimes envision you and me and your mom traveling together. We probably would have been to Disney World a half dozen times by now.
I think about what kind of music you would have liked. What books you would be reading? What movies you would want to see? I think about what gift I might have bought you for your tenth birthday. I thought maybe an Ipod, but I’m guessing that you would have had one of those already. Maybe a beginner’s set of golf clubs along with some lessons. That way we could have played golf together.
There haven’t been too many days since we first met that I haven’t thought about you. I was your father for six and a half weeks and you were my daughter. That will never change. I miss you Allison. Happy birthday.