The Last Message to My Son
"I remember the day that you were born like it was yesterday. There I was 19 years old, right there by your mother's side, and we were having a little boy together. Who would have ever thought this would be our story. The doctor handed you over, and I got a chance to hold you in my arms for the first time. I held you close and looked at you, and as you stared back, I began tearing up with joy. The love that I felt for you, my son, at that very moment was more powerful than anything I have ever felt. I knew from that very moment that my life would never be the same. I couldn't believe it. I was now a father. Excited, scared, happy, afraid, thrilled, and filled with wonder.
Over the last 17 years, I have watched you grow into the young man that you are today. I remember the nights that I would rock you asleep, placing you back into your crib only to have you climb out again. You were always an adventurer. Curious about the world around you. Always climbing, running, and discovering new places to get into. When people would ask your mother to see a picture of you, I would quickly grab for my wallet to show them first. I was so proud to have a son.
As the years past, you grew so quickly, and there I stood happily watching you go from taking your first steps to taking off your training wheels to driving for the first time. We went from playing games together to having deep conversations about the world that we live in on many drives together. You always found a way to inspire me with the bold statements that you would make. Deep down, you are truthteller with a huge heart for others, compassionate, and caring at your core. I could hear these parts of you often when you would share your story with me. You weren't afraid to be vulnerable. You have courageously spoken your mind since you were able to talk. It's one of your greatest strengths.
Looking back, these years are now shared memories captured in thought, photos, and ignited again whenever they are spoken to. Thinking about it all now, scrolling back through the years, you amaze me. You have been through a lot, and yet through all the hurt, disappointment, anger, shame, guilt, and hardship, you still find a way to stand and move forward; resilient and strong. I am grateful for all the time that we have been able to share. We will always have that. There's no way that I can explain the depth of our experiences together, father, and son, in its full entirety, but I can tell you that it has been a great honor being able to be a part of your life for nearly two decades.
I look forward to seeing where your beautiful mind will take you. Today is your day, and I hope it is a great one. Today, you are now no longer a boy. This is the very first day of a new year. Throughout this next year, there will and could be many lasts. The last day of high school, the last day with teachers that helped to educate you, the last days with certain friends, acquaintances, and those that you grew up knowing in school. As you move closer to being an adult, you will have your last days at home, and maybe even the last days here in Wisconsin. Regardless of what changes, because it naturally will, there will be new space for great things to fill its place.
There is so much more the universe has in store for you. Keep finding ways to discover it beyond where you are living today. The world is a beautiful place. No matter where you go, be you. Take special care of the things and the people you love, the things that bring you joy, true happiness, and find a way to show the world your strengths and the gifts that you have been given. Ask questions, lots of questions, and never stop learning who you are. Take care of yourself, your mind, body, and your spirit. Put yourself around those that will help those parts of you grow. Be kind. Not only to others but also to yourself. Learn from the past and pull strength from it. Be present. Because right now is all that we truly have, but don't forget to dream. Have faith in something greater than yourself. It's the most important thing to find. There's a future out there for you, son, and it starts today. Happy birthday, son.
I see you, I hear you, and you are loved.
Always and forever,
I sent this letter to Gavyn on his 17th birthday, which was just over a couple of weeks before he passed. I had no idea then, but eventually, it would become the basis of his eulogy.
I thought I would share it. One, to give an example of a father's love for his son. Two, to inspire someone else. Maybe one of his friends, perhaps a father or someone who just needs a little encouragement in today's world.
This picture was taken last father's day at the same spot my father used to take us fishing when we were little. I miss them both deeply.
Thank you to all those who have been on this journey for me over the past six weeks. I am forever grateful.