"If you're reading this journal", then there is a reason........
With Father's Day coming up, I wanted to share something from the other side of the equation regarding the "letter". So often it's too late for parents and children to share their feelings for each other. I'm not going to make that mistake.
As I begin to write this journal message to you, I am quickly realizing why so many soldiers struggle in penning a "if you're reading this letter". And why wouldn't they? It would have to be extremely upsetting for a 19 or 20 year old serviceman or woman to think about dying before they've scarcely begun to live. A Major who I've become friends with, mentioned to me several months ago that fewer than fifty percent of soldiers who go through training aren't able to come up with the words. In fact, some are angered by the mere idea of having to consider such a task. I'm sure you can call it denial or an inability to express oneself on their part for argument's sake. Nevertheless, choosing not to write such a letter may bring the loss of a great opportunity to seal a past, express the present and provide hope for the future for all their loved ones.
So I got to thinking about such a task. What if I had to pen what could be my final words to you should something happen to me while you're at war. It would go like this.
I must first tell you how proud I am of you. You have eclipsed any amount of courage I could ever have imagined. And that's just in knowing the little bits of information you've shared with us. I know there's more....much more, that I never heard about. That's why I'm saying you max the word, COURAGE.
Okay, now it's going to get harder as tears stream down my cheeks and I choke back the snot. Not a very pretty image I've left you with, I'm sure. This IS really hard to write this. Harder than I ever anticipated. Wait....just a second. I'll try and recompose myself as I clear my throat passage. Alright, here I go again.
Who would have ever thought we'd have experienced what our family did after you deployed to Afghanistan last July? I mean years ago, when you were my little guy with the bigger than life hands....I now see one who has grown into a man. That's not so easy for a Dad to say. First off, it meant, I was getting older or just OLD. That's a given. But it's also a deeper desire to know what's ahead for you.....where God will take you, the woman you fall in love with..... the children you are blessed with and the dreams you have becoming a reality. This letter means I won't be able to watch it all happen. As much as that saddens me, it's also enabling me to provide you a "gift" of direction.
Here are some of the thoughts I have, just so you know. You'll never have to wonder, like I have, if my father loved me. Did he love me? I'm sure he did. You see son, when I was growing up, it was typical for the man to be the bread winner in the house...not the 'nurturant' father . Today, it's okay, maybe even expected, for a man to express his emotions. As for future generations, the story between fathers and sons is waiting to be written. That's where you come in.
Be a Leader. Don't settle for what everyone else is doing. Lean on God and ask His direction for you. Listen to Him.......then OBEY. If there was anything that changed in me in recent years, it was listening and then obeying. Be BOLD. You've had experiences in this past year that can either cripple you or define you. Let them define you. Don't search for "normal" when you get back home, because you might not find it. Because how can you? You've changed.
|A Lifetime of Memories Await You....|
Son, cling to your Faith and your Family. To jog your memory your name, Kristopher, means "Follower of Christ". Your mother spent alot of time in researching the "right" name for you. Be that individual. And speaking of your mother. She's going to need you. Love on her more than you ever thought you could. Be the support she has for you and your brothers over the years. She gave her all for you son....know that. And then don't forget your brothers. As the now professed head of the household, you'll be able to see family dynamics in a whole different light. Be the encourager and the discerning one for your siblings. Rest assured you'll all need each other more and in a different way.
As I near the end of this journal post I wanted to share a couple of other quick thoughts. Some maybe in a word. Others in a short sentence. Each tells a story of you and me. Here goes:
MY FIRST PRIDE AND JOY
YOUR YANKEES, MY WHITE SOX
SAME WEIRD SENSE OF HUMOR
HEARTACHE IN OUR ABSENCES
TEARS WE'VE SHARED TOGETHER THOUSANDS OF MILES APART
LOVE THAT GREW THROUGH STUBBORN TIMES
FISHING WITHOUT ME BAITING THE HOOK
A NICE LOOKING SET OF WHEELS
OUR GOLDEN RETRIEVER MASON
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight
You have an entire lifetime of memories awaiting you son. Live them and breathe life into them. Unlike the old "Mission Impossible" TV show where the message would self destruct once read.....this one won't. It's yours to read and re-read. Each time you do, you'll see something different in how much I loved you. I'm hopeful that's the kind of love your children sense from you. Someday.
Until we see each other again keep envisioning the humongous hug coming your way. You can count on it.
Love you son , I was so blessed to be your father......