The sitter let me know that Rowan had seemed sad since she picked her up from school, and after asking for some snuggling and a story, had decided that she wanted to write (actually dictate) a letter to Aimee. Then Rowan shut herself in her room, which was where she still was when I got home. The sitter then handed me the letter she'd written out as Rowan had dictated it.
I went up to Rowan's room and after giving her a hug and talking with her for a minute about how we both missed mommy every day, she seemed to feel better and came downstairs. Then I read the letter while she was distracted by something else. The contents both made me laugh out loud and cry at the same time.
(Before I share the contents of the letter, I should tell you that Rowan loves McDonald's, but I won't take her there very often. I've explained that the food is very bad for you, and during our last visit there I joked of what Aimee would say if she saw me there with Rowan: "Hon! McDonald's, really?? Ugh! You can do better, can't you? Toad!" Rowan thought that was funny.)
Here's what Rowan wrote to Aimee:
I wish you were here. I want you to see how big I have gotten. My dad has been a really good daddy and sometimes he doesn't let me go to McDonald's. I love you lots.
Man, I really love that kid. And I love that she's starting to see something deeper here - that at least part of my motivation in being as good a father as I possibly can rests in the knowledge that I feel an even more profound responsibility to Rowan's development and care because the 'better parent' was lost. That's not a knock on my own parenting, which is improved. It's just a recognition of the vast, immeasurable loss.