On November 3rd, 1999 you were born. I can remember it like it just happened. The fear, excitement, and immeasurable love that tangled and bound up my body was crippling. You were born in the morning and your first day was filled with visitors, a proud mother and father trying their best to change you for the first time, feed you for the first time, and hold you in our arms for as long as we could before the nurses came to get you. That night, as exhausted as you must have been, you woke up in the nursery and cried a little. The nurse, someone I went to photography school with, came in and saw your mother fast asleep and me just sitting in the corner staring at her bewildered with the gift that she had just provided me. She asked if I wanted to come and get you and feed you a bit as you seemed hungry. I leapt out of my chair and followed closely behind her as she guided me to you. I brought you back into the room, got you fed, changed, but I could not put you down. The chair in the room converted into a bed, so I laid you down in the bassinet, changed over the chair and there you slept on my chest the entire night. If you hadn’t have had me at birth, you definitely had me then. All night you warmed my heart just by simply sleeping. My hand would occasionally touch the back of your head, gently gliding down the little bit of hair you had to then rest upon you upper back holding you in place. I did not sleep that night, I didn’t want to, you didn’t seem real, and I didn’t want to wake up to find out you just in my dreams.
Over the course of the last 18 years and almost 1 month I have stood as such a proud father. I watched you grow into a happy, exuberant toddler trying desperately to find the Buzz Lightyear that was hidden behind my back. To the little man playing baseball with me in the backyard of our apartment, and when your brother was born, you became such a loving, nurturing brother always wanting to help and take care of him. I watched you, in horror, sled down a hill and lose control of the sled hitting your face on the crisp snow as I ran down with all of the speed I had to get you and clean your wounds in the kindergarten bathroom. I watched as you defended your friend, sacrificing yourself so she would be okay. And I watched, as you became a man, a kind man, a gentle man who observes, aides, and guides when the situation is called for. Your responsibility astounds me compared to most kids in high school and your intelligence is nothing that should ever be taken lightly. While you are inches taller than me, you will always be the little man that followed me everywhere, that was so thoughtful that when your mother was sleeping you quietly let yourself out side to play so you would not wake her, and that little boy who lay quietly upon my chest. You will always be, my Buddy.
When April 11th, 2002 came around your mother was begging for a miracle. See you had liked the warmth and comfort of the womb so much I think you had decided to stay in there a bit longer. Knowing you as a person now and your strength of mind, I feel that you had it in you, even then, to make that happen. You were born 10lbs 15 ounces, the largest baby born at the hospital so far that year. You came out screaming, and screaming. Even at your large size for a baby you seemed so small to us as your voice carried from our birthing room. Visitors came and went until the moment that you were introduced to your brother. You lay in his arms as he spoke in quiet baby talk to you while you, with your eyes as wide as can be, took all of this experience in. While this hospital did not have a chair that folded into a bed for fathers, I stood outside of the nursery staring at you my amazing little man. When you were not screaming you were quietly looking around taking in everything that you were witnessing. I asked the nurse if I could take you, she smiled and walked into the nursery picking you up and handing you over to me. We sat for hours on the couch in the room while your mother slept quietly making weird noises at each other as to not wake her. When the noises would fade you would stare intently at me as if you were trying to figure me out, I should have known then how inquisitive you would become. I held you there until the nurse came back in and made me hand you over while I gently woke your mother for a feeding. You had become such a large part of our world but little did we know that we would soon be taken into your world.
Fifteen years has passed, almost sixteen, since that day. The first few months you made sure we understood that you had something to say, you said it loudly and you said it often. Then at around the four month mark, you quieted, you smiled, and you became a joyful baby but still very much aware of what you did and didn’t like. You would only go to certain people whose energy was comforting to you. If they were someone you didn’t care for you would let them know. You were so honest and upfront even then. My memories of you through the years range from the lining up of all of your matchbox cars in perfectly even rows, to playing with star wars characters on the window sill, all so quietly. I remember the first time Tigger was placed in your arms you grabbed him and squeezed never letting go for many years. Here was the Hobbes for my Calvin. You rarely spoke and when you did it was little said but to your point. It wasn’t until you were three that the words started to really flow and the questions started, all of those questions and all of the time. I remember the sneaking up on your brother and the swing of the bat that led us to an emergency room visit that had us all so very scared. The late night sleep walking that brought you out to us while we were talking on the couch. Mostly though, and this has changed very little, I remember you asking me what I liked, my favorite color, car, sport, music, band, day, number, etc. You wanted to know everything and you remembered it all. My Fritz, you have grown up to be intelligent beyond your years, sneakily caring, and passionately protective. I have enjoyed each and every moment we have spent debating, discussing, and laughing.
Over the past two years my boys, you have not seen your parents at their best. We have been either caught up in pain, a new life, a new love that brought with it new additions to your lives, a new job and changes, changes, changes. I fear that we will never be able to make up for the fright that we have placed upon you. My part over the course of these two years has been extensive; I will never be able to apologize enough. I will never have the words to make as significant of an approach to the already significant damage we have done. You see, I always wanted to provide you the love that I had always wanted for myself as a child and teenager. You may come to me one day and say that I could have done better or differently, and I promise I will listen and adjust to how you want to feel loved. I wanted you to know every single day that I would be there, that no matter what the circumstance. That I would be by your side, behind you, or in front of you if you needed, that my support was unwavering. I wanted you to know that every night when you went to sleep that I would be there in the morning so you could sleep without worry. I wanted the last words you heard every night to be “goodnight, I love you, I will see you in the morning”. I fear these past two years that some of that confidence has waned. That your sleep has been less comforting as you have seen me at my most desperate, scared, sad, and beaten down. Mostly I fear that you will harden to the joys of love, to the magnificence of giving yourself wholly to another person without thought. I fear that you would be more protective of a heart or feeling because you are afraid that your fates would be like mine. I want you to know that I would do my life all over again with your mother, knowing the outcome.
Someday, when you look back on this trying time we have all experienced I hope you will take away a few things that help you as you mature. Your mother made a decision that must have been difficult, but one she needed to make so that she could be the happiest that she knows how to be. I hope that you will watch for your happiness now and always the way that she was eventually able to. I hope that you see that no matter what was presented before me I never gave up or gave in. I may not have performed the steps to this dance gracefully, but I kept my feet moving. When I lost my balance and fell over, I picked myself back up and continued on. I hope you will see that I spent time, eventually, listening to myself and listening to what I was feeling, rather than react to everything with anger. Sadness is sadness, hurt is hurt, and pain is pain, you will know it all in your lives, but it is how you act upon these feelings that will make you the person you are and will eventually be. I hope you will see the directions I took to make myself into the person you see before you today, knowing they were not easy, the steps were not small, and that I have not lost focus of the destination. There is no book, there is no script to life or the ways in which your life will go, there are no guarantees, and no one can assure you more than you can assure yourselves. You are both amazing men, you are both caring and kind individuals, you are both more intelligent at your ages than I could ever imagine being. Gentlemen the important roles you have played in my life I can only hope to repay you by providing you a worthy father to look to and say “he wasn’t perfect, there are things I would do differently, but he showed us love with his whole heart every single day.”
I will and will forever be amazed by you every single day. Goodnight, I love you; I will see you in the morning.