He held me. As only a father can hold his daughter. I was thirty but in his eyes it was the day I was born all over again. We were sitting on my bed waiting for my mother who was composing herself in the master bathroom. He was worried and would not leave her, or my side. I had just gotten done showing Nora's NILMDTS pictures to my parents.
He wrapped one arm around my shoulder as I laid my head on his chest like the little girl I used to be. We were silent as I sniffled. My mind wandered back to the few days before when she so confusingly died, but was born.
I was recalling my fathers words of disbelief when I told him over the phone at 3 am, the morning of her delivery, that she had died. I had lost the baby. My mind flashed a few hours forward to his worried fatherly eyes as he saw me in labor sweating and shaking from trying to fight off the infection that killed my daughter. The only way to save my own life was to give birth to her corpse. I remember watching him hold her for the first and last time, he breathed her in with only one eye because his other was glued to his daughter...to me.
And now on the bed, in my big girl room, as my exhausted body slumped against his chest, he whispered his fears and love for me in my ear, with the words,
"I would have traded places with her you know. For you. For Nora."
I didn't see a tear, but as I remember watching us in the mirror across the way. I said, "Thank you daddy. I know."
And then I cried. I have been crying ever since.