Exit Stage Right

Dear Shaun,

There is so much that I wish worked out differently. So much that I wish I could change with a blink of an eye. There are nights where I dream that the last two years were just a dream and your mom, you, and I are still a happy family. These dreams are just reminders of what I gave up. Not because I didn’t love your mom or because I don’t love you. You two are by far the most important people in my life. And while there are times when I act like I hate your mom, I don’t. Sometimes I let the pain and hurt get the better of me. And it’s wrong. And I’m glad you’re never around when it sets in because I don’t wish that upon anyone.

There’s so much of me in you. I can see it even though you’re only two. When things frustrate you, I can see the flicker of my anger flash in your eyes. You’ll throw the troublesome toy only to glower at it a second later. You can’t quit just as I won’t let anything beat me. It’s not competition you’re after. Like me, you long to have control over any and all situations. This isn’t something I want for you.

Of all my “blessings” and “curses,” my depression, my rage, my headstrong attitude don’t fall into the list of things I want you to inherit from me. I don’t want you standing in the corner of a party. I don’t want you to look down on others because you don’t understand their ideas or ways. Don’t become a shut in like your father, boarding the windows and doors for fear of letting someone into your life.

I never wanted to fall in love. I never thought I would have a kid. And here I am, brokenhearted with a child I wouldn’t trade for anything. The life I led before you is over. The life I aimed for before I fell in love with your mother is but a footnote in my autobiography. I have loved others, but none like your mother.

A few years before you came along, I contemplated leaving your mother. I loved her and that was the problem. Of all the years we were together, I never loved her more than I did at the moment I wanted to leave. There was a time, when we were young, where I made your mother happy. I made her upset, too, but that’s not in question here. I loved your mom before that morning. It wasn’t until then, though, that realized just how much. The happiness that filled her eyes became fleeting. There were moments when I felt I wasn’t enough. I didn’t do the things she wanted to do. I didn’t live up any boyfriend or husband material because I feared what the outside world offered. Going outside ran the risk of embarrassing myself. Embarrassment isn’t being in control. It’s losing control of the situation. I couldn’t have that.

Don’t live your life by my standards. Understand you’ll make mistakes and I’ll get upset. There are some paths you’ll take that I won’t agree with. But don’t ever for a second think I don’t love you. And don’t ever think I don’t love your mom. Because I’m willing to lay down my arms and stand idol for her happiness. For too long it’s been about me. About me having full control over the situation that it’s time for me to give up my selfishness for her happiness. And if that means her being with another person, well, that’s the price I’ll have to pay for never giving her what she needed. At least I understand that now.

I’ll fall down, Shaun. Your dad stumbles a lot. But there’s one thing I never fail to do. No matter how beaten this disease leaves me, I always get up. Because I can take the hit. And I can take the abuse. And the pain. And I’ll continue to take it for you. There is nothing that can keep me from reaching out and hold you. Even when you get to that age where it’s not longer acceptable for your father to hold your hand or carry you into a room, you’ll always be my baby. And I will always continue to fight this for you.


Your Dad

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