When Sophia was born, she was treated like any other baby born on the labor and delivery unit. While we didn’t leave the hospital with our baby, we left with her essence: footprints and handprints, clay molds of her hands, a disc with pictures, a tiny white dress lined with pink ribbon, the tape measure used to record her length, the fuzzy purple tassel from her hat, a minuscule polka-dotted baby blanket that hugged her small frame. All protected in a small, yet sturdy, box, this vessel continues to carry the spirit of what we remember from that night Sophia joined our family.
Struggling the months afterward to hold on to a piece of her–to have something more tangible than just a fleeting memory–we had her footprints made into jewelry pendants. Dutifully scanning in her delicately curved feet, we emailed away the precious ink marks that defined the outline of her heels and each precious toe. Unsure of sending such a deeply private piece of our daughter into the unknown, what came back a few weeks later was a beautifully engraved memorial that can be with us each step of our lives. While mine is now safely stored in the nightstand beside me, Jason loyally wears his Sophia Grace dog tag each and every day. Removing it only when necessary, letting go of his little girl’s feet dancing playfully near his heart has never been of interest to him.
The only enhancement that could ever be made to his beloved tag is another one with a living child’s feet. As Father’s Day nears, this will soon be truth. After five years (and some odd months), Sophia’s feet will have a new pair with which to kick, jig, polka, and playfully dangle. Even if they cannot be side-by-side throughout life, they can share the spot held most dearly to Daddy.