Today I sat at the final basketball game of the season for our oldest son. In the seat to the right of me was my mother-in-law. To the left was my other mother-in-law ... your mom. They both cheered loud for our son and watched you coach his team.
I had a moment today. As I watched you out on the court—coaching and cheering on our son—I thought about the road that got us here. It has been four years since you came into our life. Today I realized something I may have been taking for granted all these years: you chose to be here.
I sometimes forget the feeling of sitting at the funeral—just a few years back—and aching that my five kids would not have a dad to help raise them. I forget how my body hurt just thinking about all the moments that we would do alone.
I cried many tears for the fact that my sons would never have a dad to teach them how to play ball, or give them advice about girls. I thought about all the dances and first dates the girls would leave for without a dad to tell them they looked beautiful.
I knew one day I would remarry—I hoped they would one day have a stepdad—but I just knew it would never be the same.
And then there you were. It felt like I was in a dream—at first—having you love me. Most of the time I felt unworthy of love, but—no matter how hard I tried to push you away—you loved me anyway.
You made my kids feel special, and you were always trying to be there for them. It wasn't always easy for you—I could see how hard it was some days to all of a sudden have to balance six kids. I know it was a sacrifice in many ways for you to give the other five some of the energy and love you used to be able to give to just one.
Some days I forget you could have looked at us as used baggage. You could have seen the trauma and imperfections, you could have seen how broken we were—but you didn't. You chose to see so much more—even more than I could see—you saw us.
I sometimes forget that you were not always here with me. I forget that you had a life without me; but I also forget that you fell in love with all of us—and chose to marry the whole package. I forget that your options were endless—and you still choose us.
Our family isn't normal. We haven't always been together—like other families have. Sometimes that is hard, and it makes us think maybe all the work isn't worth the fight. But sweet husband—today I see you. The you that works hard to love the kids he didn't get to help create. I see you—the man who fathers by choice instead of obligation. I see you—the man who chose to be a dad to five children who had lost hope in having one.
Being a stepdad probably wasn't ever part of your plan. That's the crazy part about life—our plans are going to fail. But thank you for taking your failed plan and finding us in ours ... and becoming a father.
Those moments I just knew life was never going to be the same—I was right—life has never been the same since my babies lost their father ... and it never will be. But today as I looked out at a basketball game and watched a "stepdad" coach a little boy— I remembered you were always meant to be his father.
We aren't always going to understand the WHY's of this life ... but the joy that I felt today helped me understand the HOW's. God had a plan for us ... and He gave us YOU.
Ashlee Birk is the author of The Moments We Stand, the blog and book series of her healing journey after the secret infidelity and murder of her husband in 2011. Graduate of Utah State. Mom of six. Contact themomentswestand.com www.themomentswestand