My emotions surrounding the event are confusing.
I met this young man and loved him instantly. He was always smiling. Noelle was his first/only child and he was such a proud papa. He snuggled her, kissed her, rubbed his nose on her soft newborn skin. I very much remember him showing off all the pictures he had taken on his tablet. When there is a language barrier, pictures and actions speak louder than words.
He had a light about him, an energy that was just contagious. Noelle looks just like him and I feel like she already has that same joy that lights her from within. She has a part of him in her. It is a tragedy that he is gone from this world so young.
At the same time...I barely knew this man. I met him a few times. Never had a real conversation for him. My sadness over his death isn't my own. It's a sadness for what might have been. The relationship I could have had with him. The relationship Noelle could have had. The pain and loss and emptiness that Noelle may or may not feel one day over her birth dad.
I know our presence was desired at the funeral, but it was not feasible for us to make a trek from Idaho to Arkansas in such short time.