I never knew I could love someone, the way I love you. I’ve loved a lot of people in my life, more than I can count. I’ve loved them for how they’ve treated me, how they’ve taken care of me, how they’ve helped me, and who they’ve been in my life. Your grandma was probably the first. I don’t remember all the ways she shaped me and all the things she’s done – but I know she loves me and I know I love her too. Your uncle is a character, and perhaps my closest friend. We have a bond that’s indestructible, and we’ve lived his whole life together. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him, and yet, he is not you. Your mother is the great love of my life – the partner I could not live without. She can make me cry with joy and laugh out of anger, she is my other half – and while you are a mini-her, you are not exactly the same. Your brother is my firstborn son. The boy I am teaching to become a man. I love him more than life itself, and yet there is room in me for the perfection that is you.
Your grandpa, your great uncles and aunts, my friends and as I know you’d want me to say, my God – all these and so many more I love and have loved, my whole life long – but I never knew this kind of love, until I met you.
Something about your voice brings my heart and soul real peace. When you laugh I melt, when you cry, I am broken, and when you smile, my life feels complete. I have never been a girl’s superman before (your momma doesn’t need one), and suddenly I am your’s. While I know it might not last forever, I will cherish every single moment I can be a hero to you. Your protector, your provider, your knight in shining armor – until the man of MY choosing comes to take you from my care. He doesn’t know what a treasure he’ll be getting, but I’ll be sure to tell him. If he doesn’t listen, he won’t be around for long.
If I am being honest, which I am prone to do, I think the way I love you is because of how you love me. So authentic, so honest, so forgiving. Even when I fail you, there is always another try. “It’s ok daddy, everyone makes mistakes…” I hope, when it comes to you, I never make another.
I never thought I’d like dancing in the car, playing pretend with stuffies, or cuddling on the couch watching animated movies – and yet it seems like I can’t get enough. Your mind is like the make believe universe that stars in every thing we watch, and still you ground me and make me remember how real and how important every moment of this life truly is. I love the way you “say it how it is” and state the obvious in the most adorable ways. I love the way you take pride in knowing what you should and admit so easily when you don’t. I love the way that you can be so dramatic and yet so simple. Nothing’s ever “a thing” and yet everything is. You make the little things into big ones, and the big things seem so little when I am with you.
Today my sweet girl, you say goodbye to five, and say hello to six. Six whole years, it doesn’t quite seem possible. Six years ago this morning we welcomed you into our lives, and from that moment, nothing has ever been the same. From the moment I met you, you have been challenging and changing me.
From the first time I held you, I knew there was nothing I wouldn’t do for you. When the nurse took you from the water, she told me to take off my shirt and hold you to my chest. Now believe it or not, daddy isn’t quite comfortable taking off his shirt in front of women he met just a few hours ago… call me old fashioned. But one look in your eyes, and I knew it was the least that I would do for you.
I held you and sang to you our song, and I’ll sing it till the day that I am gone. Our song that has only three simple words. I. Love. You. Esther Jillian Steffen, for six whole years, you have been the light my life has needed. You have made my world complete. Six years ago the world changed, and you changed mine forever. Some songs are filled with elaborate stories and fanciful rhymes, but my love for you is so simple and pure, I need only sing the words that are true. “I love you, I love you, I love you, love you, love you….” Happy birthday baby. I never knew I could love anyone, the way that I, love, you.