I miss you.

Dear Liam,

Not a day goes by when I don't look at photos of you. I'm constantly thinking of you, wondering what you're up to, what new skills you've learned, what new interests you've discovered, and with whom you've become friends. Sometimes I dream about things I'd like to do with you in the future, adventures we could experience together, and stories I'd like to tell you as you grow. Other times I smile while reflecting on my memories with you, from the time we danced around the condo while playing various percussion instruments to the time you spilled milk all over me. Every day, I miss you.

I don't get to spend nearly as much time with you as I'd like. If it were possible, I'd have you by my side all day, every day! I'm sorry that's not possible, but please know even when I'm not with you, it's not because I don't want to be. There are many reasons we can't always be together, but the overarching reason is we live in a broken world. Things aren't are as they were meant to be. I'm a broken person, and I will be candid with you about my brokenness as you get older. I know this brokenness causes pain, and it's okay to feel sad about it.

One of my favorite authors, Chip Dodd, has this to say about sadness: "Sadness is the feeling that speaks to how much you value what is missed, what is gone, and what is lost. It also speaks of how deeply you value what you love, what you have, and what you live." When I'm separated from you, it breaks my heart, and while that sadness is palpable and painful, it reminds me of just how deeply I love you. When the brokenness of this world makes you feel sad, I encourage you not to dismiss or bury the feeling. Instead, find a safe place to be sad. What does the sadness tell you about the value of what is gone?

When my dad died, I didn't have a place to be sad. After the funeral, life just moved on as if he never existed. My birth mother never spoke of him again, we didn't ever visit his grave, no one told me stories about him, we didn't celebrate his birthday, no one ever said how much they missed him, and we didn't have any time of remembrance on the anniversary of his death. My biological mother did assemble a few of my father's belongings into a small shadowbox, called it a "memory box," and stuck it in my room. Inside the 1 square foot of space were his watch, his Weight Watchers ribbon, his sunglasses, and a picture of him finishing the New York Marathon. Oh, how I would've preferred some earnest and expressed feelings of sadness instead of those useless trinkets! Yet I had to deny my grief, move on with life, and act like nothing bothered me.

You see, since "sadness is the feeling that speaks to how much you value what is missed," the lack of sadness surrounding my father's death communicated to me how little he was valued. Since I was his son, and bore his same name, I believed I, too, was of little worth. If I died, my life could be summed up by a few knickknacks in a box of pine and glass, left on a shelf to collect dust, but there would be nothing of intrinsic value to be missed. I continued to bury my sadness, building up a dam of grief that I thought could withstand a lifetime of pain. Yet that's not how sadness works. The levees may hold for years, but eventually they will break, and depending how long the grief has been pent up, their collapse can be devastating.

There's no need for you to build up dams for your sadness when you're with me. I want you to feel your feelings, and I want to process them alongside you with a heavy dose of empathy. You don't have to be able to explain them or be able to pinpoint their origins, you can just come to me knowing you will be met with empathy, acceptance, and love.

And if I'm ever not with you when you want me to be, and that makes you feel sad, know I'm feeling sad then, too. Also know my sadness is a testament of how much you matter to me, and my feelings of missing you evidence of how much value you have to me. Not for what you do, what you accomplish, nor what doodads you can fit in a box, but for who you are. You are always enough, you are always of great worth, and you are always wanted.

I love you, God loves you, and you've got what it takes.

Love,
Dad

Playing with your favorite truck on a lazy Saturday

Comments