Letters for My Daughter

By AmboDriver

Disclaimer: As usual, I don't own anything. The characters and such are all owned by Shondaland, ABC, and probably a lot of other really rich folks.

A/N: So, obviously I'm the slightly demented fan that loves where this season is headed. Okay, it was horribly predictable (right down to the "let's make everyone think Arizona is dead and then have the amputation reveal at the last minute"), but still very psyched by all the drama.

But, damn Shonda, I was hoping to at least be original with the whole taking Mark off life support bit. She read my mind (or I read hers).

Anyway, I was going to skip the happy reminisces and jump right into plunging through darkness (yeah, that starts in the next letter), but figured after the gut kick of that last scene in the premiere, I needed to have some bitter sweet memories first…so here goes.

June 10, 2012

Dear Sofia,

I really feel like I'm at a point where I'm telling you to do as I say and not as I do, but I really think part of parenting is pointing out where we've made mistakes so you won't repeat them. That's why I'm going to tell you to not do what I'm doing now, which is hanging on by my fingernails to avoid really taking in what's happened. I've been avoiding thinking about my leg, looking at it, anything I can do to put it out of my mind. In fact, pretty much the only time I've mentioned it is in these letters. And even then not nearly as much as I probably should. But I just know that facing this, really taking it in, will be the hardest thing I've ever done. And to be honest, I'm terrified.

But I won't have much chance to avoid this for long. My psychiatrist gave me homework this morning. She wants me to actually look at what's left of my leg. I haven't actually looked at it except when it's under blankets or at the very least all bandaged up. Whenever someone comes to work on the wound, I close my eyes. I close my eyes whenever I have to be moved to a wheelchair or a gurney. But between the shrink getting on me and the fact that my physical therapist wants me up on crutches today, I think today could very well be the day. Maybe it's for the best, because the sooner I let myself start down this path, the sooner I'll come out the other side, right? Well, in theory anyway, but I know it's going to be a long road to come to terms with this, to realize this is my life from now on.

So, please, if you ever have something horrible that you need to face, don't do what I've been doing since I woke up. Don't close your eyes and pretend it's happening to someone else. Don't think that one morning you'll wake up and find out it was all a nightmare. Just square your shoulders and get to it. Or as your grandfather would say, "Sofia, you just need to soldier on, press through, and fight your way to victory". I'm not saying to not let yourself feel things, of course, but embrace those feelings and use those feelings to get past the low times. It'll make you stronger in the end.

Now if only I could take my own advice. I really wish I could, but I'm also a master at pushing things away and running from pain. Again, do as I say and not as I do, okay?

But it really is getting close to time to take that step off the cliff. So I want to make sure I tell you about before the crash. I'm afraid if I do take that plunge, that I'll never remember it quite the way I do now. Even now, I'm sure it's colored by what I've gone through, but I can at least still smile when I think about our life back then. So, maybe, just maybe, I'm going to be able to do this justice.

When I first met your mother, I would have told you that my life was going well. I had a job I loved and was having fun dating some really great women. I never really had thought that I'd find the one person I'd spend my life with. I was never someone who thought about marriage or children or any of that. I just wanted to enjoy my life. But Mom changed all that for me.

She and you were the two dreams I didn't even know that I had. But then I fell totally in love with Mom and then you were there and I was even more in love with you. I had married the most amazing, beautiful woman in the world, and I had you, my amazing miracle daughter that I could not have loved more if I'd carried you myself.

And we all had your dad there for us, supporting our family and being such an amazing father to you, but still giving us the space to form our own family unit. I have to admit that last part was the one thing I would have never bet on, but I think if anyone matured through you coming into our lives, it was him. You brought out this amazing quality in him and I'm glad he got to be that person before he died. It so breaks my heart that you won't get to know what an amazing man he was. He so truly loved you.

Anyway, we had finally gotten life down. We lived on the same floor as your father, right across the hall in fact. And we had decided that we'd have breakfast as a big family every morning. Whoever wasn't at work would be in our apartment, spending time with you and getting you all fed, while we also just enjoyed all being together. It was really important that all three of your parents were there as much as possible and that's why we had those mornings. Evenings were usually just Mom and me with you (if you weren't staying at your dad's), and those were the times I truly treasured, but those mornings were pretty awesome too.

Like I said, though, the evenings when you were with us were so amazing. We'd all sit on the floor and play with you. It was a great time for Mom and I to talk about our days or something more important like our vacation plans or what school we want you to go to. After our play time, we'd all sit down for dinner together. That was something that we both think is really important, and I hope we're still doing it when you read this.

After all that would come my favorite time of the day—bed time. I love sitting with you on my lap in your rocking chair and telling you stories while your eyes start to droop. And then there is this magic moment when you just slip into sleep. You just sigh and relax, curling a little into my arms. I hope that someday you get to experience that. I had no idea before you were born how amazing it would be to have you there in my arms at night, to know that you trust me so completely that you'd fall asleep in my arms. But now that I know, it chokes me up just to think about that bond we've built.

Most nights I'd put you in your crib and just stand there and watch you. Usually Mom would stand beside me and we'd lean on each other and just watch you. The fact that you were there with us was such a miracle. I mean, really, sometimes I think back to your birth and how tiny you were and how at first I couldn't hear your heartbeat, and then I see you toddling around the apartment or tossing blocks across the room, and it just takes my breath away. I probably shouldn't have told you that, because I really think that you'll be able to get away with almost anything because of it, and now that you know the reason, I hope you don't use it against me to get what you want. I am still your mother after all.

So, life with you was great, amazing, awesome, and all those other words I used to toss around on a daily basis. But what made it truly special was having your mom in my life. I told you yesterday what a truly amazing person she has been through all of this. But more than that, it's the little things that really always show me how much she loves me. And I hope that I've done what I could to make sure she knows how much I love her. And best of all, she just seems to really know me, more than anyone I've ever met. And she can be surprisingly thoughtful, which isn't how I think a lot of people at work would think she is, but she is.

Like yesterday for example. I had told her she had to stay home with you in the morning and not show her face until noon at the earliest. Well in she walks at noon, looking truly happy for the first time I've seen her since the crash. There were no shadows under her eyes or worries furrowing her brow. And do you know what she brought me? She had videotaped her entire morning with you, from the moment she got you up, through breakfast and your bath, and then the whole morning playing. She even left the camera on you while you took a nap and she just stood next to your crib like we so often had. There were five whole hours of video. And I greedily watched every last second. She said that since you still can't come to visit because of your cold, that at least I could see you somehow. You are so beautiful and you've gotten so big. And she's right, you are really getting fast and confident. You're amazing.

We also made a quick video of me that she was going to show you after she picked you up from daycare. I'm waiting for her to come by this morning to hear what you thought. You're still a little confused about the TV and such, so hopefully it wasn't something that freaked you out or anything. I'm just hoping you still remember me. It's been weeks since you've seen me and I don't want you to forget who I am if it's still a little while more until you can come to visit or if I'm not up to seeing you right away.

You see, I know that I'm starting the grieving process. I learned about it in medical school. There are five steps: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. People move through those steps differently, but it usually starts with denial, and I know in my logical mind that that's where I'm sitting right now. But it's only a matter of time (and like I said it could even be today), before something sends me tumbling on to the next step and the next and the next. And when that happens, there may be times, even huge chunks of time, when I can't really be your mama or Mom's wife. I know there will be times when I am just so far down or so mad that I want to push everyone I love away. That's just how it works. I wish it didn't, but it's all a part of healing. Or at least that's what we were taught in our death and dying class in school.

But no matter what happens as this journey continues, I will never stop loving you or Mom. The two of you are literally everything to me. You're my heart and my soul and don't ever forget that. I told Mom that last night, too, just in case. I wanted to make sure she had something to hold on to as I teeter on this knife's edge that is the control of my emotions. I just wish you were old enough to start to understand. Maybe it's better that you haven't seen me in so long. Probably better that than having me come back into your life and then crash right on out of it again.

I'm not saying I don't want to see you. Of course not. And I get this feeling that you will be a large part of my recovery. You and Mom will be the lights at the end of this tunnel that is stretching out before me. But as a parent I always need to think of you first, and right now, maybe things are working out just as they should for your sake. Or as well as they could. I wish nothing more than that I could be home with you tonight, snuggling you and telling you stories before bed, and then standing there with Mom and watching you sleep. And I really hope that you won't be too big before I can do that once again. Because right here, right now, I'll tell you that I'm determined to get back there, to get to as close to normal as I can get. Sure, it'll mean a prosthetic leg, and sure things will never be like they were for any of us, but someday I'll be there next to your crib or your bed watching you sleep. There may be some shadows where before there was light, but you know what? You need light to make shadows. And you and Mom will always be my light, no matter what.

So, I want to spend some time watching you sleep right now, even if it is only on video. I've only got an hour until my PT session starts and I'm dreading it with every fiber of my being. But just in case, I need your peace right now, baby girl, to help get me through this.

I love you so much.