Alone, at night, in the second bedroom we had converted into a nursery, sitting in a brand new rocking chair, I reflected on the day’s events.
I was a father. Wow! Amazing!!
Just hours earlier, I held my beautiful, little daughter in my arms. I experienced feelings of pure love and beauty that I’d never felt before. The nurse told me Kaileen was trying to suckle, and it would comfort her if I let her suck on a finger while I held her.
The last two months had been very difficult for me. I had signed my third professional football contract, left my wife and soon-to-be baby, traveled to the Orlando Renegades training camp in Florida, and was cut from the team in just two days – that was it… I had now been cut from every professional football league that existed at the time. I had no more prospects. Football was over! Now what was I going to do?
Upon returning home the day the Renegades gave me the news, I was angry, relieved, confused, and embarrassed. I was an emotional wreck. It was the first and only time in my life I think I felt what depression must be like. I had no direction. I had no money. I had no career prospects (nor even career ideas). I felt completely lost.
Slowly, I began reassembling the life I had left to become a pro football player. I went back to work at the hardware store and bar, and re-enrolled in college. I was going through the motions but I didn’t know where I was going. For the last ten years, I had been working towards a goal. I had had clarity of purpose, every day. Now, I realized I needed to move on but I didn’t know to what, and I had even less idea about why. Forget how. I didn’t have any feeling deep in my heart about what I was to do next.
Until I held Kaileen in my arms, that was. Then I knew.
Sitting there, quietly, surrounded by the bright, primary colors, and the happy clown theme of her nursery, I knew.
Sitting there, sucking my index finger to see if I could suck as powerfully as my brand new, little baby, I knew.
That night, I knew deep down inside me that it was time for me to grow up, get on with my life, and provide for my family. I had a new clarity of purpose. It was my responsibility to give Kaileen everything she needed to become happy and successful in life. What an enormous duty. What an amazing gift!
The pure love I had for my first-born child was so powerful it snapped me out of the funk I was in and set me on a new path in my life. I was lucky enough to experience pure love again four years later with the birth of my son Kyle. 20 years later I remarried. And once again, just before our first year anniversary, my beautiful wife gave me a most amazing gift. She asked me to drop the “step” in my role as dad. She wanted me to adopt her girls and make them ours. What an honor. What a gesture of love. To this day it has been such a great privilege to love, play with, and sometimes discipline our beautiful girls, Shea and Sydney. It is a great responsibility of trust to raise them up as my second and third daughters. It makes me so very proud when they call me ‘dad’.
As I write these words, another package of pure love is preparing to arrive in my family. Kaileen is very pregnant and due any day now. It’s thrilling for me to imagine seeing, holding, and loving my first grand baby. I happily wonder what powers grand baby love will have and what new path it may send me on.
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