Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight. We all know who does, and she's fab.

Prayers are funny things. So often we wish for things that are impossible to be achieved in the very given moment in which we ask for them. Even more frequently, we wish for things that we only think we want at that specific point in time because we're so consumed by the thoughts of whatever it is we're asking for that we can't see how it can be possible to live without it. Instant gratification; that's what we're in search of.

Sometimes, however, it's the things we're forced to wait for that end up being what we've needed, and unknowingly been pleading for, all along.

Edward is, without a doubt, the incarnation of every one of my once believed to be unanswered prayers. He became the friend I'd needed and wished for during my days of isolated care giving; the ear I'd needed more times than I could count when things became more than I could manage on my own; the voice I'd needed time and time again to tell me that no matter what happened, everything would be okay.

He's the one who showed me that not everyone who becomes a part my life will leave.

The year I met Edward was a whirlwind experience I'll never be able to forget. I lost my mother in the spring, made a friend truer than any I'd ever had before in the summer, found love in the fall, and tried to make a new beginning with my father in the winter.

I don't recall the exact date I'd lost touch with each of the friends I'd once had, or when precisely it had been that I'd closed the door to my heart on everyone that had once been a part of my life. I can't even recall what month it had been when I'd said goodbye to my father for the final time and walked away with no intention of ever turning back. For such a monumental event in my life—choosing to let go of the only blood family member I had left—you'd think I'd be able to remember it in perfect clarity.

I don't.

I do, however—funny as this may seem—remember the exact date Edward asked me to stop hiding from him.

There had been nothing remarkably memorable about the occasion to note it by; I'd cried and he'd listened until the sun had risen, until he'd known every ounce of heart wrenching detail of what my life had been like for those few years I'd lived in Phoenix. Part of me thinks it's not the fact that I let him in that that day sticks out in my mind, but how much my life changed because of it that makes it so notable.

In the early morning hours of Saturday, September 4th, 2004, I prayed for my decision to trust Edward explicitly to not become a mistake, to not ever regret letting him in.

I never have. It's been seven years since, and there hasn't been a day, or even a moment, that I've regretted it.

There's no telling where I'd be today if it weren't for Edward. When we first met, concepts like family, love, support, true friendship, and even faith had been foreign to me because they'd been absent from my life for so long. But because of him, they are no longer abstract ideas that I find impossible to identify with or believe in. They're just as tangible to me now as the hand holding mine is, and it's because of the man standing beside me that my life is full of everything I'd once had no hope of ever having.

He's my rock; my everything.

The journey to where I currently stand hasn't always been a smooth one, or an enjoyable one for that matter. For over a year I tried, really tried, to work things out with my father. The problem was, I couldn't ever let go of the hurt he'd caused. No excuse he ever gave me was good enough to take away that pain, or even lessen it enough for me to be able to accept things as they were—and truthfully, that wasn't all that great to begin with. For all of Charlie's halfhearted attempts at making me feel included and wanted as part of his life, he only ever succeeded in making me feel that much more of an outsider. I couldn't relate to him, couldn't forgive him, and couldn't ever let my guard down around him all because I couldn't trust him—and one day I realized, I never would.

In the end, I was left with a choice. Either keep hurting myself and those around me—Charlie's family included—or don't. I chose what would finally allow me to heal my own wounds. I let him go.

It's taken a lot of hard work and countless hours of therapy for me to mend the parts of myself that had been broken. My road to overcoming my past and becoming whole again was filled with ups and downs and sinkholes at every turn that often left me feeling buried so deep in pain, guilt, and insecurities that I feared I'd never be able to reemerge. Looking back, though, every bump along the way was worth experiencing because they helped me become the person I am today, and I'm proud of who I see when I look in the mirror.

My heart no longer holds the hatred and resentment it had once been filled with. It's open and free to love and trust and forgive without reservation or hesitance. In letting go of the burdens I shouldered from my past, I found freedom from my fears of rejection, abandonment, and the unknown of what the future held. I was given a new lease on life, one in which I could embrace the present and experience what it meant to truly live. Above all else, freeing myself of those burdens gave me the ability to see past the misfortunes I'd suffered in my life so that I could acknowledge the blessings I'd been granted, and be grateful for them.

I've spent many nights in my life praying to be granted various things in my life, and for a long time I felt those words that I'd sent towards the Heavens were wasted.

They weren't.

I'd prayed for friends; Edward was sent to me, as were those he counted among his own.

I prayed for a future where I could find happiness; I was given the strength to make it for myself, and the support and encouragement from those I cared about to see me through the hard times.

At different times in my life, I've prayed for both my mother and father to return to me so I could have family again; they did, but only for long enough for me to make my peace with her, and only long enough for me to realize that he couldn't offer what it was I was really searching for—a true sense of family.

I never found that with the people I was biologically bound to; I found it in Edward's family. Through them I'd been granted both a mother and father who I could look up to and open my heart to. I'd been granted a sister, a brother in-law, a niece and nephew, aunts and uncles, and even a handful of cousins. It's through all of these people that a void that had always been present somewhere deep within me had been filled. It's them, their names and faces, that come to mind whenever I find myself thanking the stars for the family I'd been blessed to be given.

There's only been one gift that wasn't granted effortlessly to me in some way through Edward, and it was one I'd spent half of my life believing I'd never want based on what I'd been through.

A child of my own.

In a few short hours, our home in Port Angeles will be flooded with friends and family alike to welcome Faith Renee Masen into our family. It's a day Edward and I prayed would come, but as with every other prayer or wish I'd ever made, it came with a long wait and an abundance of heartache. The road that brought her to us, much like the one that had brought me to her father, was worth every heartbreak we'd endured and every tear we'd shed.

I look up from the beautiful face of our sleeping angel in my arms and into the loving eyes of my husband. There are no words to express how grateful we are, and have been, every day since she made her way safely into our arms just one week ago. Here, in our arms, she will always be safe, always be cared for, and always know she is loved.

Only one thing has enabled us to overcome every devastating loss we've suffered in our journey to becoming parents, and our daughter's existence is a testament to the strength of it: Faith.

Faith that our prayers would be answered, in time.

A/N: Okay, so before I get 101 reviews telling me off for pulling an SM and withholding the lemony goodness hostage, I've started putting together a special little outtake for all of you lovely readers who crave the citrus. I tried and tried and tried to write it into the story, but it just would NOT play nicely with the flow of the chapters... stubborn ass piece of fruit. I'm going to try and get it posted before I leave on vacation for the sunny beaches of Australia (WOOHOO!) but I make no promises.

And onto my rambling bouts of gratitude...

Lots of love to all the ladies who have been with me from the very beginning of my foray into writing fanfiction - Branson, Maple, Chilly, Sugunary, Teacher1209, RoryCullen, Radar1230, HopeStreet, Mountainlion718, RebeccaMCullen, Cynthia Romo, Neliz, Allthatsparkles, Elaine67, Icrodriguez, Rebadams7, Kismit1496...jeez, I'm probably leaving a ton of people out here (please forgive me if I do, it isn't intentional)... Ya'll are freaking AMAZING! Every time I start a new story, you're right there with me without fail. I love each and every one of you for it! Huge hugs to Branson for starting the forum thread over on Twilighted for this story, and to everyone who stopped in and shared your posts with me.

Sasha, I love you girl, even if you are a permalurker who reads my WIPs in secrecy! LOL. I miss your crazy ass!

Big thanks to all the WC peeps who kept me company many a late writing night and both encouraged me and lent helping hands when I struggled or hit massive bouts of writer's block. EmilyBowden, Kitsushel, IPunchWerewolvz, Laurnorder, JennDurr - you ladies are the best!

Last, but most certainly not least, giant thanks to all of you, the readers, who took time out of their busy days to follow this story's updates and share your thoughts. It's because of all of you that I continue to write and share my stories with this fandom. The writing experience wouldn't be the same without having someone to share it with, and for that, I thank you!

See ya'll sometime soon with the outtake!