"It was just her and her mom for a long time when we met, and naturally she was a little protective of her mom when we began dating. I tried to plan activities that the 3 of us could do together and over time, we became good friends. Three years went by and I asked her one day after I picked her up from school, 'How would you feel about me and your mom getting married? Would that be okay with you?' She looked down shyly, but I could see that she was smiling. I knew it would be okay.
Our relationship shifted after the wedding as I took on a more paternal role. I was involved in her school decisions, her daily life, and her discipline. I always loved her, but now I loved her like my very own daughter. She still called me by my first name and I didn’t blame her. I knew I could never fathom the feelings and emotions of a preteen girl and I just wanted her to be comfortable with our family situation, though I secretly longed to hear her call me Dad.
One day she got home from school before her mom or I were home from work. This happened occasionally and she proved herself responsible enough to begin her homework and household chores without supervision. But on this certain day, the weather was horrible. Ear splitting thunder and flashes of lightning made it an eerie day to be alone. All at once, the power went out in the city and I got an urgent phone call from her pleading with me to come home. I dropped everything I was doing and raced to the house.
I parked in the driveway and ran soaking went up the porch. I unlocked the front door and opened it, entering a pitch black room. “Hello?” I called out. Then I heard footsteps running down the hall and into the entry way. She wrapped her arms around me and cried, 'Daddy!'
I hugged her close and kissed her hair. 'Shhh. I’m here.'"