Dear Baby Girl,
The last two weeks have been quite traumatic to say the least. And I know you've felt some of it as you grow inside of me. I have to admit that having you roll around in there has kept things in perspective and have helped me. After all, it's hard to crawl into the fetal position and cry when I physically cannot get into the fetal position anymore! As you grow up, you're going to see me get sad sometimes. And you'll often hear stories that will seem completely absurd and unbelievable. So let me give you a sneak peek about all of that:
Your grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Vener Engelman, was an amazing woman who unfortunately lost her battle to ovarian cancer in 1993. Your Aunt Kim and I were just 17 years old and about to graduate from high school, and Uncle Rob was 20. There is never a good time to lose a parent, but she did an incredible job preparing us for the world. We could take care of ourselves, didn't have to rely on a guy to be someone, and knew we could take on the world if we just tried. She worked through her illness, finishing her doctorate before she died -- her life's dream. Aunt Kim is really starting to look like her now, though she is where my body structure, music ability and a LOT of personality traits come from.
Now for the latest trauma. Your grandfather, Filmore (Phil) Keith Engelman, suddenly had a series of strokes. On December 17th with all 3 of his kids surrounding him (and you in my belly), he joined your grandmother in heaven. We all have different memories of Dad growing up, and all developed deeper, closer relationships with him after Mom died. We watched him stand by Mom's side and promise her that her kids would be OK. He helped us all through Mom's death, college, breakups, marriages, new careers, and just lately, the both exciting and frightening time of bringing a baby into this world. I still cannot believe he is gone, and cannot imagine doing this without him.
But the wonderful thing about your grandparents is that they have given me the strength and ability to do this without them physically being here. I would give ANYTHING in the world to have them here with me and to hold you as you enter this world. But I'll just have to settle for their memories and stories that we will share with you as you grow up. Believe me, with Aunt Kim and Uncle Rob, Mom and Dad's 7 remaining siblings and close to 20 cousins of ours, we have plenty! And you will think we're just making them up, too!
I know that Dad would have been sad that he couldn't hold you, so when he was in the hospital and I was holding his hand, I sat on the bed and had him cradle you in my belly. It's the closest we will get, and I'll treasure the photo forever. It's posted below, along with a re-post of my favorite photo ever that we shared when we found out you were a girl. Dad loved it too -- though he commented that if I cropped me out and only left him and the cat it would be better. Total Filmore statement. :-)