I See You (a Father’s Day letter)

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Beloved,

I see you. Up in the morning with the little one smiling on your shoulders as she rides through the house in the hiking backpack carrier that you wanted for your birthday. You yearn to bring our babies along on your outdoor adventures. The beauty of that desire does not escape me.

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I see you. Curled up on the couch in the morning light with the baby snuggled into the hollow of your chest and neck, sleeping in peace and safety. The empty milk bottle sits on the coffee table, a testimony of our teamwork, sharing her midnight feedings.

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I see you. Rushing home, changing your clothes, diving into last-minute dinner prep. You talk to our preschooler with loving interest. He knows he’s important and precious. You sing and make silly faces at our baby. She knows daddy is fun and safe and reliable.

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I see you. Laboring after sunset, building shelves, painting doors, sawing metal rods to fit the closet. You work tirelessly and gently. You don’t snap at me or speak tersely at the end of the long day. You give as if it doesn’t hurt or wear you thin. How is that possible?

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I see you. Smiling at me from across the kitchen, admiring me and finding me beautiful, desirable, even in those moments when I’m frantically scrubbing dishes or mopping spit-up off of the floor. You see beyond my harried exhaustion and admire my eternal, unchanged self leaving me astonished and humbled. Ashamed, too. Because there are many days I can’t hope to be as good a partner to you as you are to me.

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I see you. Holding my hand, kissing my lips, meeting my eyes with acceptance and grace. Together, we have lost unborn children, become landlords, traveled to Europe, constructed homes in blistering heat, birthed two little humans, hiked tropical jungles, grieved the death of loved ones, collaborated on art, co-led a Bible study, savored live theater, blended our literary tastes, pulled each other back from black depression, designed a place for creative community, fought and made-up and stonewalled and lashed out and begged for forgiveness, sat still and held each other close while we witnessed a river flowing past us.

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I see you. The father of my children. All five of them. “Father” is just one of the important roles you play. But it’s never been more valuable to me than it is now.

Happy Father’s Day. I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone but you.

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

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