Godly fatherhood...

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My Dear Bristol,

Before you were born I prayed for you. In my heart I knew that you would be a little angel. And so you were!

When you were born on my birthday, April 7, 1980, it was evident that you were a special gift from the Lord. But how profound a gift you turned out to be! More than the beautiful bundle of gurgles and rosy cheeks...more than the first-born of my flesh, a joy unspeakable...you showed me God's love more than anything else in creation. Bristol, you  taught me how to love.

I certainly loved you when you were cuddly and cute, when you rolled over and sat up and jabbered your first words. I loved you when the searing pain of realization took hold that something was wrong...that maybe you were not developing as quickly as your peers, and then when we understood it was more serious than that...

I loved you when we went from hospital to clinic to doctor looking for a medical diagnosis that would bring some hope. And, of course, we always prayed for you...and prayed...and prayed. I loved you when one of the tests resulted in too much spinal fluid being drawn from your body and you screamed. I loved you when you moaned and cried, when your mom and I and your sisters would drive for hours late at night to help you fall asleep. I loved you with tears in my eyes when, confused, you would bite your fingers or your lip by accident, and when your eyes crossed and then went blind.

I most certainly loved you when you could no longer speak, but how profoundly I missed your voice! I loved you when your scoliosis started wrenching your body like a pretzel, when we put a tube in your stomach so you could eat because you were choking on your food, which we fed you one spoonful at a time for up to two hours per meal. I managed to love you when your contorted limbs would not allow ease of changing your messy diapers...so many diapers...ten years of diapers. Bristol, I even loved you when you could not say the one thing in life that I longed to hear back..."Daddy, I love you." Bristol, I loved you when I was close to God and when He seemed far away, when I was full of faith and also when I was angry with Him.

And the reason I loved you, my Bristol, in spite of these difficulties, is that God put this love in my heart. This is the wondrous nature of God's love, that He loves us even when we are blind, or deaf, or twisted...in body or in spirit. God loves us even when we can't tell Him that we love Him back.

My dear Bristol, now you are free! I look forward to that day, according to God's promises, when we will be joined together with you with the Lord, completely whole and full of joy. I'm so happy that you have your crown first. We will follow you someday...in His time.

Before you were born I prayed for you. In my heart I knew that you would be a little angel. And so you were!

Love, Daddy

- quoted in letter by Dr. James Dobson, December, 1990.