I like the idea of being the first boy to write you a letter. That’s cool. I beat all them other suckers to the punch. (That aint all I’ll beat them suckers to either, if need be.) I have so much to say to you; so much on my mind and in my heart that I want you to know. About me, about life, God, relationships, your mom, your history and future. About boys and hunting and camping and guns (your mom can teach you about the girly stuff). About what’s right and wrong and good and fun and bad. But, we’ve got lots of time for all of that.
Or do we?
I pray we do. I dream of taking you on dates, just me and you. I can see us now, cruising down the open road on my Harley, or doing just about whatever you want to be doing – as long as we are together. I look forward to talking with you about the things in life that matter most, whether you are five for 15 or 25. I hope and deeply long for these rich days ahead, but I also know what I don’t know: what tomorrow holds.
No one knows what tomorrow or this week or this month or year has in store. Life is full of surprises, unexpected twists and turns, challenges and hardships, mountains and valleys. I thought I would only get to be with you for one month after you were born. But these nearly six months of your smiles and laughs and not-so-smelly (yet) diapers have been just marvelous. You are so incredible, more so than your mom and I could have ever dreamed. So chill, so fun to be with, full of smiles and cute noises and love for everyone.
You see, our expectation for tomorrow or next week is based on our very limited and incomplete perspective. Most people aren’t that aware of this fact most of the time. We like to plan things out, to know (and decide) what’s next. Not knowing (or not controlling) the future makes most folks uneasy. But actually, we have no idea what is next whether we think we do or not, and we can learn the beauty in this Arrangement. We are Designed to trust the Maker of Days to arrange for life. He is good, and trustworthy, and kind. Together, I hope you and I can learn to truly abide and have full Joy in the each of our days: never presuming for tomorrow, but always in expectant hope for His goodness.
With your half-birthday just two weeks away, I am about to leave you and your mom for a little while. Gulp. A year to be exact, minus three glorious three-week vacations. Though I don’t think you’ll remember missing me, I know you will. I know I will miss you. Oh boy do I know. It hurts to leave. Even now, I already have a tinge of regret for the precious days of your first year that will pass without me. Your first words, first steps and so much more. You are growing so much day-to-day, week-to-week.
Why? Why does your daddy have to leave? Why can’t someone else go? Why can’t we have a normal life in an average town and just be together? These are good questions, and ones that I ask in some of the more frequent wavering moments I’ve had lately. Some days, I don’t want to be who I am. I don’t want to leave. I just want to be with you and your mom. Sure, this journey is full of adventure and travel and challenge and gratification, but it comes with a heavy dose of hardship and heartache, mainly from missing you and your mom.
The answers to these "why" questions pull me in two directions. On one side, I long to be a faithful dad and husband. I must provide for you physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am supposed to teach you many things, and raise you to love people and God. On the other side, it seems, the path in front of me is taking me away from you, and from my ability to do these things. There’s important work to be done, and someone has to do it. This world you are growing up in is a mess, and I have the opportunity, in some small way, to help make it a better place. To do this, requires sacrifice not just for me, but for our family. This position between the two ends is not a comfortable or easy place to be.
It boils down to two things that I hope one day you’ll understand.