To most people, the wristband sitting just a few inches away from the keyboard I’m using to write these words probably looks like a piece of trash soon to be discarded.
But it’s actually a constant reminder of the greatest day of my life – the day I became a father.
Nearly four months ago, I was wearing that wristband the day my wife was admitted to the hospital, just hours before we welcomed our daughter, Maya, into the world.
From the moment we walked into the hospital, I told myself to try and remember each and every detail I could. No matter how minuscule, I took notice. For some reason, I picked up a tic that day to grab the wristband after each memory I wanted to remember forever.
After we put “Maya the Bee Movie” on the TV in our delivery room to try and relax, I grabbed the wristband.
When family and friends were checking on us to see how everything was going, I grabbed the wristband.
As our doctor told us it was finally time to officially become parents, I grabbed the wristband.
In logical terms, the tic is easily explainable. I wear a watch just about every day and often fool with the band or face in between various tasks.
But the act of grabbing the wristband that day was different than me fidgeting with my watch.
When I caught myself doing it the first few times, the act became more than just an involuntarily action.
It became deliberate as I started to see the wristband almost like a save button for my mind.
While I realize that sounds slightly silly, it was a way of trying to send my brain a clear and direct signal – don’t forget these memories.
I was hoping to tell my mind to push out all the other random nuggets of information I’ve collected over the years to make room for this incredible day.
Despite not having any sort of medical or behavioral intervention studies under my belt, I’m pretty sure that’s not how the human mind works.
Yet the exercise wasn’t entirely in vain because I now have an object that immediately triggers all of those memories each time I look at it.
Any time I see the wristband, I get a quick flash of some incredible recollection from that day. Imagine something like a “flashback” on a TV show.
More often than not, the memory that appears is the moment I held my daughter for the first time.
After months of doctor’s visits hearing about what we’d be going through and reading books on what to expect in the delivery room, she was finally here and in my arms.
The feeling, as I’m sure most dads reading this can attest to, was unlike anything else I had ever experienced and will likely experience again.
It was an overwhelming sensation of joy, relief and nervousness all in one fell swoop. I hesitated to give her back to the nursing staff just because I didn’t want that moment to ever end.
But as I finally handed her over, I made a promise to Maya and grabbed the wristband.
I promised her that from that moment on, she was going to take priority over everything else in my life.
The outings with friends, Netflix binging and, yes, even Auburn football games would all be taking a backseat to Maya going forward.
That’s the real reason I’ve kept the wristband for the last four months and plan to keep it for as long as I live.
Having those memories flash into my mind at any time is wonderful because I get to revisit the day my life changed forever.
But it mainly reminds me of the promise I made to my daughter in the hospital that day that nothing else would ever come before her.
That promise meant just as much to me that day as it does four months later on my first Father’s Day.
While it might not always be easy to do, I’ll work harder than ever each day to make sure nothing comes before the person that gifted me the greatest title of all – dad.
With or without my wristband, that’s a promise I always intend to keep.
ROD GUAJARDO is editor of the Daily Journal. Connect with him through Twitter: @rodgjournal, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (662) 678-1579.
Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in Sunday’s edition of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.