My friend Craig has had a tumultuous if not tortuous last year. He had been on an extended journey of self awareness which culminated in a decision that provided him relief but startled and unsettled – to say the least – his family. Notably, his son stepped away in anger from his father. Craig’s efforts to reach his son via phone and email have largely been fruitless.
Several weeks ago as we talked over coffee about restoring the ties that bind, I suggested to Craig that he write a letter to his son as a means to loosen the emotional logjam. We all know all too well that phone calls can dissolve as each side impatiently tries to interject their points, disrupted further by still more interruptions, less than civil inflection and a harsh, rising volume. Letters avoid the tonality of those discussions. The sender makes his or her points in a considered fashion, absent of the din that marks so many well intentioned but ultimately disappointing calls. To be sure, there are no guarantees what Craig would send would be opened. It may well not hit its mark. But parental love demands the effort be made.
Craig took me at my word. He told me he’d indeed sent a letter as a hopeful step that any father would take to repair the rift and narrow the gulf that separates family members. I asked if he would share the letter, and he said ‘yes.’ His one request of me: protect the identity of his son and his wife. I readily agreed to change their names. There is no word yet as to how the letter was received. As with many things, however, it is the thought that counts.
Here is Craig’s letter:
February 23, 2010
Dear Tim -
When your mother and I were expecting you…I could hardly wait for you to arrive. I was a bit scared to have the kind of responsibility of having a young child at age 22. I asked myself: “Would I be a good father? Would I know how to protect and nurture this child I have not even met?” I got to know a bit about your personality even before you were born. Inside the womb, you were quite the kicker and poker… much to your mother’s dismay at times. Each time I reached over and felt your kick, poke or elbow, something inside of me got more and more excited about the possibilities of that little baby in there… who just might change my life forever.
The day you were born was a day I will remember forever. It was incredible that you arrived on Father’s Day of all days! I looked in your eyes that day, held you in my arms and I was never the same. You melted my heart, like only a child can do. I loved you from the first minute I saw you. That love grew even more over time as you became a toddler… then a young boy in school… then a young man. I am so proud of the man you have become and am so excited for you to also experience this new chapter in your life. You will experience it in your own way, but my hunch is you just may never be the same either. I am so excited for you with the joys you will experience of raising your own child, with all the hopes and dreams you have for him.
I am thrilled for both you and Katherine as you become parents together. The end of May will be here before you know it. I know you both will be great parents and will be able to work through the challenges of sleepless nights and other stresses of a young child with grace and patience. You will no doubt experience incredible joys in raising your son together.
Tim, I think of you often and wish you all the blessing a new child can bring you. If there is anything you need, please ask. I miss you and will always want to remain in your life. Please call me or send a note when you can.
(Excited “Grandpa to Be”)