Shelby needs to have an example of what a caring, devoted man, father, and husband should be. She is a mere 8 years old, but I believe most readers here will understand when I state that, well, I might not be here by the time she's 18. It's a cold, hard truth that should never be swept under the rug or glossed over, and I can unfortunately speak from experience.
She needs standards, before she even sniffs at being interested in boys. I can only hope that I've been, and will continue to be an example to her.
She needed to see that a man can allow and encourage her to be independent, but to always support her in a time of need.
She needed to see that a man will sacrifice his own happiness, not in love, obviously, but in general for his wife's well-being.
She needed to see that a man will hold his wife's hair for 1.5 hours, every morning for a decade, as she has her routine coughing fits, and that it is never seen as normal to him.
She needed to see that a man will be calm and collected and able to make informed, quick decisions when faced with his wife coughing up pints of blood.
She needed to see that a man will carry his wife to bed when she can't walk up the stairs, and that it is always effortless.
She needed to see that a man will bathe his 33 year old wife as she cries, because she can no longer do it herself.
She needed to see that no amount of sickness, frustration, or trauma will ever make a man walk away from a woman he truly loves.
She needed to see that 12 years is not nearly enough time for a man to give all of his love to his wife.
She needed to see that a man can be strong most of the time, but it's OK for them to cry when their goddamn wife dies.
She needs to see that a man will fulfill his vows, in sickness and in health, until death does him part from his wife.
She needed to see what true love is, and she needs to see it again.
She needs to see that though a new woman may be now part of his life, a man can and will still love his wife, and the mother of his beautiful daughter just as much.
She needs to see that a man in this situation will make smart decisions about bringing a new woman into his daughter's life. Decisions not based on loneliness.
She needs to see that a child is always the priority for a man, but he is able to balance that with someone new that he truly loves.
She needs to see what it's like for two smart, experienced adults to meet and fall for each other in a healthy way.
She needs to see that a man can only expand his heart with love for another person, rather than replace space that someone else previously held.
She needs to see that a man should have his own drive and determination, but that the women in his life will always factor into that.
She needs to see that a man can lose his wife, but still have the confidence to move forward and keep living life without fear.
She needs to see that a man will always honor, cherish, and respect a woman's past, and know that it is what makes her who she is.
She needs to see that a man will always tell his worst truth, rather than his best lie.
She needs to see that lightning can indeed strike twice.
Shelby needed to see me love and take care of Megan for those years. As much as it pains me to say this, Megan becoming sicker and dying was another learning experience for her. She learned that although her dad bent over backwards, he didn't break, and would walk to the end of the earth for the woman he loves. He didn't shut down or stop taking care of his one remaining piece of his wife. She deserves to be honored, respected, loved, and taken care of by a man just as much as I honored, respected, and loved Megan.
As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that Megan also set a standard for Shelby, upon which she can judge all women. She has briefly met this new woman, just through a video call, and she has fully approved. She has even made the statement that she is "magnificent", and she can't wait to do things with her. To have Shelby not only approve, but to encourage me to love the new woman means the world to me, because Shelby is the closest I will ever come to having Megan's approval.
Shelby knows I deserve a woman that loves me just as much as her mother did. She knows that whatever woman comes into my life will need to be strong, driven, smart, and ultimately, will need to accept that Megan is and always will be a part of our lives. She knows that no woman could ever replace Megan, and that a new one should onlycompliment her.
She knows that this new woman fills out all of those check-boxes.
No matter what anyone else's opinion is on new love, there is only one person's that matters to me, and that is Shelby's.
I need to ensure that as I move forward with this new woman that the example I set with Megan continues on. Megan is no longer here to advise Shelby on these matters, so all I can do is lead by example.
I am setting the standard by which Shelby will judge all men.