I lost my dad at the age of 19 before my life had even really begun. To say I was a daddy’s girl would be an understatement. I never doubted for a second how much he loved me. He was someone who was truly good at nearly everything he did but he was best at being a daddy.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, there was a small part of me that felt broken. Even though I had it all together. I was married, owned a home, and was financially stable. We were in the perfect place to have a baby. But my heart felt otherwise.

After losing someone close to you, there is always a trail of sadness that surrounds everything joyous because there will always be a piece missing.

It’s just part of loss you have to get used to.

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My due date actually fell on what would’ve been my dad’s 41st birthday. This granted me a glimpse of peace. It felt as though she was close to him without him being here and without her even being born yet. I believe he helped God sculpt the perfect little girl he thought I needed. He made sure to give her all of the sass I gave him through the years, my brown eyes because I was his “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and he gave her all the love for me I was missing in my life from him not being here. My heart felt a little less empty for the first time in almost three years.

However, I absolutely dreaded bringing my baby home without my biggest cheerleader by my side.

My dad cheered me on through every softball game, choir concert, and academic event, but it was scary to know he wouldn’t be here to support me through what would be the greatest accomplishment of my life. I went nine months without visiting his grave because I was scared of the emotions that would flood over me, knowing that not only was I robbed of having my dad for as long as I should have, but my daughter would be robbed from having her grandpa.

And let me tell you, he would’ve been the absolute BEST grandpa.

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I brought my daughter to my father’s grave for the first time when she was only 11-days-old, and I promise it won’t be the last. My baby girl will know her grandpa even if he isn’t here to hold, kiss, and hug her on earth. She will know when I make his famous breakfast burritos who she has to thank for it. She will be able to throw a baseball and bait a hook, just like my dad taught me. Those chubby cheeks everyone loves to squeeze didn’t just come from Mommy but from Grandpa. She will know as we dance around the kitchen together on a Saturday morning which songs her grandpa loved. She will hear all of the same advice and lectures I heard as a child. She will hold in her heart the same values her grandpa held close to his. I will tell her all of the same, crazy, made-up or embellished stories he told me at bedtime.

She will know his love, as it is the love that pours out of me in the same way it poured out of him.

My daddy may not be here on earth to be her grandpa, but I will have peace knowing my children have been assigned the best guardian angel there is.

Jocelyn Rice

My name is Jocelyn Rice, and I am a fiercely loving stepmom, mom, and wife from North Dakota.