If you have ever . . .

If you have ever carried her life within yours and picked out her name and wondered what color of eyes she would have and what kind of a difference she would make in the world,

you are a hero.

If you have ever watched your waistline expand or developed stretch marks on your hips and dark circles under your eyes and found a few more gray hairs than anyone your age deserves,

you are a hero.

If you have ever cleaned up her vomit in the middle of the night, or listened to her tears when her best friend moved away, or took her for ice cream after her first day of school, or cheered her on when she tried her best but they still said it wasn't good enough,

you are a hero.

If you have ever worked two jobs or gone to night school or stood firm by your decision to stay home or otherwise gone without while you stayed up at night to pray for a miracle as you poured over your budget, but she never knew because you sacrificed and bargain shopped and cooked from scratch or otherwise struggled to give her as much as you possibly could,

you are a hero.

If you have ever spent a sleepless night scared out of your mind wondering if she was safe, or said no when all you wanted to do was say yes and then felt the sharp knife of words you know she didn't mean but they hurt all the same, oh my, how they hurt,

you are a hero.

If you have ever been so tired and beaten down from a long week of life and all you really wanted was to crawl into bed with a cup of tea and a good book to make you forget, but she asked if her friends could stay over so of course you got dressed and made cookies and pulled out the sofa bed instead,

you are a hero.

If you have ever had a dream that you completely forgot about because it was nothing, it was worthless, it paled in comparison to those chubby toddler hands and that toothy first-grade smile and that hurting teenage heart and that brave strong smile she gave you when she moved away,

you are a hero.

If you have ever wished she had someone better, someone more able, someone more worthy, someone with fewer faults and less baggage, someone who could have given more, offered more, helped more, known more, done more, loved more, 

please don't.

There is no one better. There is no one more able. There is no one quite like you.

You see? This is her story, her very own story, and you are helping her write it. Every day is another page and you are the one that fills it with words, so many words, hundreds of words, thousands of words, some she wants to hear and some she probably doesn't and some you dearly wish you could take back, but she needs them all so she can write her own story, and in her own story don't you ever forget that

you are a hero.

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