Day 347: 16 years

My oldest is turning 17 today. He’s the one that made us parents. His is the last of these “first” birthdays without his dad. With the exception of the actual anniversary of his death, this is the last big “first” without Vance.

Seventeen years ago, someone took this picture, just eleven minutes after Vance officially became a dad. I’m not sure who it was, it for sure wasn’t me. I was still in recovery after the emergency c-section. But someone, maybe my mom, took this shot.

It’s one of my favorites because it sums up so much of what Vance was about in just one picture. He’d been a dad for less than a quarter of an hour but you can see in his eyes that he had waited his entire life for just this moment. The moment he was able to hold his own child in his arms.

He looked at all four of kids like that. He mourned the loss of the one we never got to hold after I miscarried. Vance was born to be a dad. It was his very favorite thing. Just ask anyone who spent more than five minutes with him. They’ll agree.

I will never understand why he only got 16 years as a parent. I’ll never understand why our kids no longer get to hear his giant voice telling them “Happy birthday!” or reminding them of just how much he loves them.

I keep telling myself that “God is not surprised.” He knew this was how things would play out. He knew the number of Vance’s days on earth even before he was born.

So in that, I trust. I trust, but I do not understand. As an old friend told my mom upon hearing the news of our losing Vance, “Why can’t the a****** dads die? Why does God take the good ones?” It made me laugh that first time she told me and it makes me laugh now. But it also makes me wonder why the “a-hole” dads get to stick around while my kids will never see their dad again. Why a man made for such a time as this is gone before we are ready to say goodbye.

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