Today was both awesome and almost impossible.
Clara had a great day! She rode all over the hospital in her little pink car, looked out the windows from the top floor, watched the fish being fed at the aquarium, had goldfish crackers and Hershey's kisses for lunch and spent the afternoon on leave OUTSIDE OF THE HOSPITAL for the first time in 4 weeks. Natasha and I were so excited we couldn't decide what to do, finally settling on taking Clara to my cousin Nicole's house for a few hours. Nicole and her girls have been to the hospital to visit Clara a number of times and Clara loves little girls (sorry, 15 yr old Elyse! In Clara's eye's your still a little girl, kinda). We could only stay for a few hours, but Clara was in heaven and wore herself out. To Nicole, Cody and kids THANK YOU, from the bottom of our hearts.
Clara was not happy to learn we were going back to the hospital. As I pulled into the parking garage, she repeated, "no, daddy." Natasha had to console her in the suite by rocking her and singing to her, as she did not want to get back into her hospital bed.
Finally, when it came time for me to return home, that little girl broke my heart. As I told her that I needed to go, she stuck out her bottom lip, and tried to hold back the tears - she did a better job than I. She wouldn't look at me and I could tell she was both confused and hurt. As sad and difficult as it was to leave, moments like that make fatherhood divine. The same scene will be repeated dozens of times over the next year, and I hope the familiarity of the experience does not dull the emotion of parting.
To all fathers, keep it up! I love this job.