The following is a letter I received from Rob, a grieving dad who lost his 28-year-old son Ryan a few months ago. His son Ryan had special needs and was a medically fragile young man his entire life. He and his family devoted much of their lives to providing him all the opportunities they could.
Rob wrote this beautiful letter to his son. I wanted to share this letter because many of the words that Rob wrote in this letter resonated with me. I hope you too will find a connection in this letter.
I never wanted this to be a part of my life – who ever would? But, in a way, I guess I’m glad that it is because it means that the love I have always had for you is still a piece of me. That my love is stronger than losing you.
This is all so new; we are just now approaching the three-month anniversary of the last time I held your hand and kissed your forehead. Even though that was on the worst day I have ever experienced, I cherish the memory. How can it seem so long when it hasn’t even been three months?
I still have your Father’s Day card, unopened, sitting on my dresser. You signed that card a couple weeks before . . . well, “a couple of weeks before” is enough said and all I want to write. I want to open it but I don’t know if I ever can. I’ve picked it up several times and just had to put it back down. Father’s Day was hard; I suspect it always will be.
Sleep has been difficult. Just too many thoughts run around my head. I don’t remember too many dreams happening but I must be having them because I wake up in the middle of the night and I immediately have thoughts of you. Most of those are of good days, good memories. Holding your hand on a walk. Watching, and listening to your screams of joy, as you ran. Your laugh. Playing your songs for you during the long nights in the hospital room. Parts of almost every night I lay in bed awake, staring at the ceiling trying not to disturb your Mom or the dogs. Tonight I got out of bed and started writing you this letter. I just feel a sense of emptiness. One that I don’t know if I will ever be able to fill and not sure I even want it filled.
Oh, I’m keeping busy. It helps and hurts at the same time. I’ve spent a big part of the summer swimming with your friends. I’ve coached at some swim meets and I’ve talked to so many athletes and coaches from other teams who remember you. They all tell me they miss you, they almost all want to hug and a couple have even cried. It’s an odd feeling when you are trying to comfort someone when all you want to do is cry with them. With some of them I have. I guess I never realized how many people noticed you, respected you for your will to fight and loved you.
Tears continue to come easily. My eyes are full right now. It is still difficult to talk to people who are just learning the news or I am seeing for the first time since “that day”. Kind of weird, I try to fight them but I don’t hide them either. I have only had one day without them – and I can’t figure out what was different about that one day. I pray I didn’t not miss you that day even though I know I miss you dearly all the time.
I used to have my future pretty much planned out. Most of it centered around you. I really didn’t realize that until a friend asked me if I thought about how I would “move forward”. Right now that seems like such an odd term. Sometimes I’m not sure I want to “move forward”. It almost feels like I am betraying you if I do but I know I have to at the same time. Someone else said that I’d find a “new normal soon”. I hope so, I’m not really happy with today’s normal. Life with you was always so lively, so vibrant . . . now it mostly feels flat – like it’s all in black and white when you know there should be color. I’m not sure how to get that back again but I trust it will be here again . . . maybe not as vibrant but at least not in black and white.
People ask “how are you doing” and I don’t know how to really express my feelings. So I mostly answer with a shrug off my shoulders and tell them I’m just taking things hour by hour and day by day. That’s true but not really the whole story. Saying that I miss you doesn’t do my feelings justice. It is so much more than that. The closest thing I can think of – and it stills feels like an inadequate way to say this – is that I yearn for you to be here with me. I desperately want to sit next to you, to watch you enjoy a meal, to see you dance. So much so that, at times, the feeling actually hits me physically in a way I really can’t put into words. That has actually been frustrating me to no end. I want to be able to put this into words. I don’t think I can really process something I can’t find the words to explain. Maybe they will come to me . . . someday.