Each day I feed her and bathe her and laugh with her.
I take her for walks, read to her, hug her and sing to her.
I'm not sure how many times I tell her that I love her, but it's numerous. Some might think that saying "I love you" over and over makes the words lose meaning, but each time I say them to her, part of my heart aches from what I feel when I'm speaking.
On a daily basis, I give her vitamins and her medications, and a roof over her head, a warm room with "i carry your heart with me" painted on the wall and homemade afghans on the bed to sleep in.
Lately, though, I've found myself trying to give her things that I think she's going to need for the long haul, because with the visions of fairy tales stripped from my head, I'm starting to realize what a long haul it is going to be.
I'm slower to kiss her "owwies". "There's no crying in baseball", I say to her, then kiss her after she insists on it repeatedly. She still thinks I'm magic that way. I feel a liar to let her believe these things.
I feel like somehow I need to instill other things in her; not "girlie" things, not comforting things, not hugs and coddling, but tools that are going to make her capable and strong and un-needy.
I want to make her a fighter. I want to make her the type of person that gets knocked on their ass and instead of crying, gets back up and goes at it again, over and over.
I want to make her realize the value of herself, of what she has within her, of what she can have within her.
I want to make her a girl that is secure enough within her being to not look for a missing man in all of the men that she meets.
I want to make her a girl that loves me enough not to hate me for what I cannot give her.
I want to give her so many things, so many things, and I'm afraid that no matter how much I do give her, it will not ever be enough to fill the void that I'm worried is already growing within her, the ache that she can't quite place her finger on.
I want to take that heart of hers and keep it wild and free and open, and at the same time, I want to cage it to keep it from the wounds that are undoubtedly going to leave it scarred and tattered.
And I have absolutely no idea how to do this, how to be this person, and it's scaring me in ways that I don't know how to put into words. It has me staring at the ceiling in the dead of the night and wondering if I did right by her when I thought that I could be enough of a person to take care of her and provide her with what she needs.
"I have no idea what I'm doing", I find myself saying this over and over lately and it's only a matter of time before she recognizes that, before the person that she sees when she looks at me and the person that I see in the mirror before me are the same.
And there are so many things that I want to give her before that day.