Sarah Land says this little 12-pound baby motivates her to get up every morning and live life the best she can. In addition to making little Rileigh smile and fulfilling her every need... Land says she always talks to her about her dad.
"Just how great he was and how much he loved her and just.. all the great things that I loved about him.
She says Rileigh was the best idea Brett, ever had.
Army Corporal Brett Land, 24, never got to meet Rileigh. He died October 30th, just two weeks after she was born and two weeks before he was supposed to come home from his tour in Afghanistan.
"To me it's hard because he's not going to be here to…to play with her and just…to be a dad," Land said.
The Porterville native died after stepping on an improvised explosive device. Sarah says his actions saved other soldiers' lives.
"He was the one who said I'll go out, I'll go look. And so he went down... everybody was fine and then he was coming back and the person driving the truck was backing up and then he stopped. And he was going to get out of the vehicle and Brett said No No I'll come to you. Just stay there. And when he got to the door... is when he stepped on it."
When Brett Land's body was flown to Porterville his family felt shattered by his loss.
But as they saw children lining the streets holding American flags as his casket went by...they realized his spirit would always live on.
At his funeral, friends shared memories of Brett Land's love of wrestling. Sarah says she loved his passionate and caring nature.
In 2009, the two had only known each other a week when Brett proposed. Their romance felt right.
"He was my better part and I was his better part."
And so with one of her friends as a witness the two said "I do" at a city hall in North Carolina. Both were ready to have kids and last valentine's day...they found out Sarah was pregnant.
This photo shows Sarah and Brett on mother's day...Sarah's belly just barely peeking out of her sweatshirt.
"When she started to kick I would take videos and so he would just see my belly bounce up and down."
At the time Rileigh came into the world, Brett was going out on missions a lot. He just happened to call the night she was born. Sarah says she held up the phone to their little one so she could hear her dad's voice.
"He told her that he was her daddy and that he loved her and he would be home soon to see her."
Now, Sarah still feels Brett's presence around her while she cares for their 3-month-old daughter at her mother's home in southern california.
"In my room I have pictures of him and just the way she looks at those pictures it's like she knows who it is," Land said.
Every day she wears a necklace from Brett's mom. It reads "always in my heart" and has Brett, Sarah and Rileigh's names on the back. Sarah and Rileigh still visit Porterville once a month to see Brett's family.
Sarah says Rileigh is a good mix of both her and Brett-- she has her eyes ...and his chin.
"She has definitely... his personality."
A personality Sarah can't wait to see as Rileigh grows older, learns of her dad's service and sacrifice.NEWS BY LOCATION | ABC30 BLOGS | DISCUSSION FORUMS
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