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Today I become the dad of a teenager. Anna Gabrielle MacConnell arrived on May 7, 2001. She was a Daddy’s girl and quickly had me wrapped around her tiny fingers. While most Dads are writing a letter to their teenage daughter about life on their birthday; I instead am learning a lesson about life as taught by a 13 year old with 2014 years of experience. I look to the words expressed in “For Good” from Wicked; with some slight modifications:

I’m limited Just look at me I’m limited And just look at you; you can do all I can’t do

Most dads will be worried about first dates, heartbrakes, futures, finances and growing up. Anna, I know, can do all that I can’t do. I could be worried about wielding a sword and slaying demons’ but with the full armor of God I know she is already one of the best. I hope that one day I can do the things that she accomplished at such a young age: I hope that I can see people as well as she could – despite being blind. Sometimes being blind is the only way to see the truth.

I’ve heard it said That people come into our lives for a reason Bringing something we must learn And we are led To those who help us most to grow If we let them And we help them in return Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true But I know I’m who I am today Because I knew you…

You influenced me to be a little bit of a better person (I hope). I’ve been able to travel and provide medical care to individuals who otherwise would be without. You made me learn much more about pediatric cardiology, developmental pediatrics and critical care management than I ever wanted too. I have been able to apply a minimal amount of that knowledge to comfort the Mom of a little guy with Down syndrome in Ecuador: down on the floor demonstrating some exercises to work on and being able to help arrange for follow-up care in the Capital City of Quito. Hopefully we made a difference for him.

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you I have been changed for good

It will be That we will never meet again In this lifetime So let me say before we part So much of me Is made of what I learned from you You’ll be with me Like a handprint on my heart And now whatever way our stories end I know you have re-written mine By being my Daughter…

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you, Because I knew you I have been changed for good

The foundation we started, in part to honor your memory continues to try to “Do Something Nice, for Someone Else, Everyday. We are donating Parent Packs to Cincinnati Children’s (with goals of expanding to Riley’s, Nationwide and Dayton) – helping parent’s experiencing an unplanned admission. We are planning on moving forward with our goal of the “Comprehensive life enhancement center” (you already know we will come up with a better name)- providing therapies for individuals and families as well as the volunteers who serve. We plan on: aquatic, animal assisted, art, athletic, music, communication, kinesio, mental health, hippo, occupational, physical, speech language, engineering, medical, nursing, vocational and life skill therapies. As you are turning 13 earthly years we would be in need of transition services which are lacking in the system. We have some big plans and hope to help all of us be the best that we can be (Like I know you are still trying to get me to be the best that I can be!)

I freely admit that we miss you terribly (as selfish as that sounds) but are comforted by the fact that we will be together again. Until then; I know that I have been changed for good and hopefully for Good by being blessed with you as my daughter! Happy 13, Slay some demons for me Big Pie! Love You, Dad

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