An open letter to my two year old daughter, to be read in the future
I guess this is a strange way to speak, but I can never be sure what the future holds. And I’ve been writing you letters and notes since before you were born. You’re mother has a couple. She once told me she’d protect them with her life. They were written in a place of great expectation and welcome. Maybe more is said by the little tear stains on them than anything I might have written. Those are tears of absolute fright and complete and unbridled joy. It certainly was an incredible time. Waiting for you and then getting to know you. I had so many things to say and so much I wanted to do, there was so much I wanted to share with you.
But things changed I guess. It wasn’t very long after you came that I saw you were going to have to grow up with your mother and father apart. And for this I have and still felt so much guilt, so much remorse. I have this heavy feeling that I failed you, that I failed your mother and I did what I swore I’d never do. I swore up and down I would never have a child and raise them in a broken home. And there you are and here I am. Boy your Daddy sure blew it. sometimes the plans we make are the heaviest stones we hang about our neck. And I doubt I’ll ever feel entirely alright about the events after your birth. But I will always swear that your mother is a loving Mommy and wants only the best for you. She does a good job and should always have your respect for making choices and decisions that probably were none easier for her than they were for me when I made my choices. Neither she or I did the easiest thing. Life just puts crossroads in front of you and you need to choose one way or a another. And this was a choice I made and the whole time I walked my path I kept an eye on the other hoping and praying that I didn’t choose wrong. I am sorry this has affected you, I never meant to set you up or to make your life harder. And if these choices did that I beg you to see how hard it was for me and that you know if there was another way I’d have done it, I would have done anything. For you, I would always do anything.
I write this to the you of tomorrows far away. So that the past has a voice just for you. I would give anything to know just who my father was when I was 2 years old. Though now a couple years after his death I sometimes wish I knew him in those last lonely hours before he left us. It hurts to say goodbye before you’ve finished the conversation, before the road has been traveled. And I know that you feel it too. You talk about Grandpa sometimes as though he is right here. You even tell me about seeing him. Maybe that is good, it makes me feel a little better that if I can’t be there then he is. And he is watching over you. And I swear baby he loved you.He adored you and was so thrilled with you. His last words to you were “I love you baby, I’ll see you again soon.” You’re never going to be alone. Take some comfort in that.
As for me. I go with you everywhere. You are on my mind constantly. And when my days come along for my time with you I get excited and so anxious to see you. I barely sleep the night before. It’s like Christmas every time you come see me. I never turn down a chance to be with you unless it’s nearly impossible to move mountains and stars. And the best feeling I have ever had in my whole life is that first hug you always give me. As I approach you reach up for me and when I pick you up you wrap your arms around my neck and pull into me with all your might and all your heart and I know how much you miss me too. Because I miss you so much when you are apart from me. I feel only half awake. Like this part of me that is alive has gone to sleep. It’s only awake when you are there to shine on it. You show me things in me I have never known and never suspected even existed.
I know there’s a chance that as the years pass you’ll hear things about me. Things I wish you didn’t have to. And things that in some cases were told to hurt me and not you. So don’t let it get too deep in there. Just know the truth, for a long time I was a very lost person. I did bad things and hurt people. I was caught in a self-induced fog and lived my life like a terminal patient. I never expected to live very long and I had no reason to try. The world was a hard and cold place for me. I’ve done my wrong honey. I regret it all. I am sorry for all the hurt I caused, I am sorry to people you’ll never even know exist. But were part of my life before you. I ache in a very deep part of me for the life I lived.
I have tried very hard to change, but like any real change, it’s been hard. It’s been a little forward and then a little backward. Some days I am right back in that old skin. And I am lost again. But some days I am better. Some days I feel different. Some days I have hope, hope for me and hope for you. That is tough, I am so afraid of making any investment in dreams and the possibility of a joyful life. Because to me if you believe in hope it feels like setting myself up for disappointment. I have lost much and saw so much that has left me anxious and distant from most things that I just get to feeling that nothing ever stays, nothing ever sticks. But this is me, this is my mud puddle and I wallow in it. Don’t you ever think you need to jump on in. Or live afraid. You’re already the bravest and most courageous person I have ever known.
So here’s what you need to know about me. I love you, not just the words but with all my being. When you are with me I am filled with that love. And we dance and sing and we don’t care no nothing about what anyone thinks. When you get sleepy I still cradle you in my arms on my lap and sing quietly to you and rock you. Songs you may someday come to love yourself. When you get happy and bouncy I play with you, lifting you in the air and making you giggle. I love kissing you as I lower you down and hearing you say “Again! Again! Daddy!” as though you trust me absolutely. We roll on the floor and we go to the park. Sometimes we don’t do nothing but hang out and just be. Then when you get sleepy and grumpy I find out I have patience in me I didn’t know existed. I still have to try hard to not get frustrated. But I seldom do. And if I do I am always careful not to let myself get angry. You teach me much at these times. And then my favorite thing. I watch you sleep, you are so perfect, so beautiful and I gently touch your hair and look at your little fingers and kiss your forehead. And I let you feel me even in your sleep. I want you to know even there you are safe with me and nothing bad can come. Daddy is there and he’ll never go away.
So here we are. A father and a daughter. I know that what we have is rarer and more special than even most parents. It’s a special bond and a spiritual one. We are like two peas in a pod. And you are the best part of me. Thank you for coming to me, thank you for giving me the great honor of being your daddy.