You are turning four in a few days, and I’m starting to feel like this whole adventure is going way too fast for your old man. I’m so amazed by the discovery of your personalities as they develop and begin to mature. When I wrap my arms around you, I know that I am truly the luckiest man alive. I love all the ways you are similar, and appreciate the ways in which you are different from one another. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the past few years, it’s that you are the best parts of me, and my greatest fear is that, one day, for whatever reason, you may be separated from each other. That, hopefully irrational fear, has woken me more nights to a tear drenched pillowcase than I care to admit. For all my strength and hardness of heart, this singular thought can still break me and reminds me of a child-like vulnerability I had not long ago thought lost to the cruelty of this world. I have a recurring nightmare about it that is far to painful to share, especially when, intellectually, I know it is not real. It’s a manifestation of my love for you colliding with this terrible fear for your life-long well-being. It is the curse you will one day carry, while tucking your own child into a warm, safe bed, praying for one more day together.
I know there will come a time when I am no longer making the decisions for you, and all my prayers can be summarized in this: “Lord, may being a dad not be where I fail in this life. May our days together, however few; however plentiful, be filled with laughter, love, and life. May my sinful deeds not circle back to visit their vengeance upon my children nor cause my demons to sink their claws into the precious innocence asleep in the next room. May what I have to offer as a father be enough to build strong men. Men who trust; who love; who protect all those who are placed in their paths. May their hearts be light, free from deception or the weight brought about by immorality. May they live simple lives, free from obsession with power, greed, influence, vanity or any other pursuit which can poison a man’s soul and harden his heart. Above all, may they always have each other to lean on, in good times and in those times where all the things they hold dear seem to crumble within their grasp. May they always have a place to call home, surrounded by the wealth of family and true friends. May they better me in all things, that my greatest accomplishments are but fading ripples in the shallow pond of their humble beginnings. May they grow up to be great men, but knowing that their true greatness lies in the strength of their character. That they never spend a second doubting my love or knowing how proud I am of the boys they are today and the men they will become, some distant tomorrow.”
This is the birthday where you will get your first peddle bikes. I can’t wait to hold the back of your seats, while you learn to trust in a whole new way. I love you both so much!
And I always will.
Happy 4th Birthday, Thomas and Cole!