I wish it could have been different…

This father’s son passed away while he was incarcerated. This is his letter to him.

Dear little [name omitted],

 I am writing this letter to let you know I have always loved you and will always remember you.  I don’t think I will ever forget you. I am sorry your real father wasn’t in your life like I should have been, but I was addicted to the lifestyle and substances. I didn’t want to expose you to my lifestyle. I was really close to seeing you a couple of times, but I backed off and made the decision to let your mom raise you until you were 18. As you know, I was incarcerated when you turned 18 but my lawyer and I decided I would contact you to see if you wanted to know your real father and we could have some type of relationship. I raised you until your were two years old but your mother and I drifted apart. She picked the good lifestyle and I picked the bad lifestyle. I was so far gone that I thought that I could never be able to get back and live a righteous life. As you know, now I am in touch with my higher power more than ever and he has allowed me to get through your death.  I am hoping and praying that the Holy Spirit steers your mother to talk and let me know what happened in your life and what happened on the evening you went out. I know you played football and track. I played football too but not track and they couldn’t catch me like they couldn’t catch you on the football field. I know in my heart that your mother raised you the best she could but I just wanted to let you know that I am sorry that I wasn’t there for you. But now that you have been deceased for a year I have to let you go to Jesus and move on with my life. I know that you are up there watching me right now and that you will always be watching me.  Ask Jesus to help me stay clean and sober for life and not return to the bad lifestyle.  I know you can’t answer but I will be talking to you when I’m praying with my Lord Jesus Christ. You are up there with your real grandmother, your real grandfather, uncle and other relatives. I’m hoping in the future that your mother will let me see some of the football tapes and pictures of you. I have some but I want more. So ask Jesus to let the Holy Spirit steer her and let us sit down and talk and I will be able to see you when I die and come home. I love you little man. You are my only son and I wish it could have been different. I will always remember you as 18 and I was so, so close to us meeting again. I think we would have been able to have a good relationship, but Jesus had something else in store for you and so he brought you home. Your mother will always have a part of my heart and I hope and pray someday that we will be friends. I wish her the best in life. I can’t wait until we meet again. I have to say goodbye now, but not forever. I have my Jesus and my sobriety to hold on to. I will be thinking about you and remembering you always.

Love you little man,
your father

I heard this read with my children around me. My son was on my lap. I can’t imagine the regret. I can’t imagine how often that regret comes rushing back into his soul unexpectedly each day reminding him unendingly.  I admire his ownership of this regret due to his choices, his heart longing for reconciliation and the glimpses in his words of desiring his son’s admiration. Desiring the admiration of another, while at times narcissistic, is also a sign of love. We all desire the admiration of those we love.  He seems done running away, although in part it is too late. In a sense that makes it even more admirable. Being too late is a perfect excuse to continue running. But, redemption and overcoming are not the fruits of running.  They are the fruits of surrender and courage.

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