I am occasionally asked to describe the impact Gabrielle has had on my life. There are the standard new father stories. Sleepless nights. Dirty diapers. Streams of spitup. The impediments to enjoying a beer or two (or three or four) while catching a Monday night football game out with friends. Those tales are universal truths. I was prepared for them.
I wasn’t prepared for this – the ghosts of my past beaten quiet by a two-toothed smile of joy.
Gabrielle’s arrival has given me a better sense of the map I’ve traveled to find her. The missed exits, wrong turns and ill-advised “shortcuts” no longer irritate as they once habitually did. Most if not all of the calamities I’ve rued in my life I now see had a purpose.
I’ve had regrets. They all seem so petty now. The parties I never attended. The women I never dated. The relationships that failed. The jumpshots that never went (damn my genes). Those disappointments never defined me, but I have at times lamented those opportunities missed. It always seemed I owned the nosebleed seats at a minor league ballpark while others enjoyed the luxury boxes of Turner Field.
I have no anger. I had no ill will. Just sighs surrounding what could have been. That changed last year when Gabrielle was born. Those weren’t wrong turns at all. The calamities were well calculated. I went where I needed to go.
She was my destination.
I can backtrack her birth. There was the chance meeting of her future mom. The painful dissolution of a relationship months before. The decision to return to North Carolina from Virginia. The year and a half of my life I wasted with that girl I refer to as “the girl I wasted a year-and-a-half of my life with.” Staying in Boone after graduating App. Going to App in the first place. All the small daily decisions inbetween.
One step left instead of right and Gabby wouldn’t be with me now. I may have had some other child, or a fleet of children, but none of them would have been her. She’s unique. She’s special. She’s my “Gobble’el”, and she wouldn’t be who she is if I had lived any other way.
I am blessed to have her as my daughter. I am blessed to have her mom as my wife. I am blessed to be the stepdad for the preteen. On this day for fathers, life is wonderful and regret-free. I wouldn’t want it to be any different.
I’m glad I walked the direction I did. It brought me to you. Thank you for being you Gabrielle.