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I heard her padded footsteps, flat and short, across the hardwood floors of the bedroom I share with her mother and before I could open my eyes I felt her breath on my cheek. Judging by the amount of light filtered through the blinds that stretched across the foot of our bed in stripes of warmth, it was early.

“Wake up,” she whispered.

She patiently stood inches from my face and as soon as I allowed the blues of my eyes to peek through my lids, she lifted her cupped hands for me to see. She smiled and I did the same in return. Regardless of the time, any morning I get to grab a few extra moments with her is a good morning indeed.

“I have a present for you,” she said.

With her tiny hands still palm to palm, I hoisted her into the bed careful not to wake her mother beside me and I sat up to face her. She smiled even bigger and I couldn’t help but mirror her excitement as she moved her hands holding the gift she brought towards me.

“Open it,” she said. “Open!”

I pulled her hands apart with my own and exaggerated shock, as a parent does. I lifted the invisible gift from her grasp and told her I loved it, I told her thank you, I told her she didn’t have to give me anything… then I asked what it was.

“Sunshine, Daddy.”

I hugged her tighter than any time before, a challenge that continues presenting itself at every sunrise. I really did love it. I really was thankful. It was the best gift I’ve ever received and, little does she know, she’s been giving it to me every day since she was born.

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