Dear Cody and Jakob,
I wanted to write something for you on this Father’s day, your second without your Daddy there. I wanted to add to the beautiful things he did leave behind for you but also to tell you a few things about your Dad that you might never know without asking someone who was like him and with him for the years before he became your Dad. And that person today, is me – your Aunty B.
A lot of people will remember your Dad because of the things he did before he went to be with Jesus. They will remember the video he made for your Mum, the Oprah show, they’ll even remember how he helped people by getting a very expensive cancer treatment to be made available to others for much less money. But you will not remember your Dad because of these things, although as you get older these memories will become more real to you than the ones you have of him as a child. You will remember your Daddy, who read you bed time stories and told you that no matter what, he would always love you and live in your heart. You will remember how tall you felt on Daddy’s shoulders, how strong Daddy was to be able to lift you up so high, how much fun it was to watch movies with Daddy at home. You will remember how safe Daddy made you feel, and how much he loved you. And it is my job as your Aunty to protect those memories for you, and to build on them. Please always know that you can ask me questions about your Dad. Because he was very special to me and we shared a very special connection which I hope one day to be able to enjoy with you two as well.
Daddy and Cody
I’d like to tell you what I learned from your Dad. I learned that there are people out there who will love and accept you no matter what, but that it’s also part of those people’s job to make sure you grow and learn from your mistakes. I feel sad sometimes because when I feel especially frustrated or upset about something, I am reminded that now that your Daddy’s gone, I don’t have the same support and understanding that he alone had for the way I felt. See, your Dad and I shared an amazing connection to protect each other and to feel outrage for each other. That may sound really strange, but one day you will understand it. Sometimes when you’ve been hurt or someone has treated you badly, all you need is a good friend to be just as hurt and upset about how you’ve been treated as you do. And your Dad was always that person for me. Your Dad always stuck up for me, looked out for me, but he also was honest with me and would tell me when I was wrong. Your dad helped me to learn how to become comfortable with myself as a person, to tune out the people who aren’t worth listening to, and to focus on the voices of the people worthy of trust.
Your Dad always knew who people really were, underneath all the talk. He had a special way of sorting out the difference between what people said, and what people actually did, and I learned a lot from him over the years because of that. Your Dad was a huge believer in doing what you say – following through with your word, even when it costs you. I know as you grow up that is something your Mum will teach you as well, because she is the best example of following through on your word, even when it’s hard. Your Mum stood by your Dad, even when it was hard, because she gave her word to do so.
Boys, don’t ever let the world tell you it’s ok to be a flake. Being a person who shows up when you say you will, does what you say you will do, and lives as an honest, reliable and trustworthy person is very important. If you want to be like your Dad, be one of those people. Be honest and open, even when you’ve failed, and you will be trusted because of it. And more importantly, love yourself for who you are and know that there will be someone (sometimes more) that will fully understand you in your frustration, anger, sadness, excitement. Seek out the people who allow you to be fully who you are, like your Dad did. Seek out the kind of people who can keep you honest, and real. The people you surround yourself with will be the people you become like, and your Dad knew this.
I imagine it must be very hard to grow up without a Dad, especially on days like today where everyone is talking about their Dad, and making presents for them. It must be confusing for you, even though you know who your Dad is, and where he is. I’m sorry you have to go through this, it isn’t fair. But you should be proud of the fact that your Dad loved you so, so much and is with you in your heart every day, especially today.
Cody, when your Daddy died, he gave me his computer and one day I had a look at some of the videos and pictures he had made of you. He loved you so much! There is a whole load of videos at your kids church singing and playing and the whole time, Daddy has the camera focused on you. He never took his eyes off you. One day when you are older, I will show them to you and I hope you see what I saw when I watched them – Just how much Daddy adored you, how no matter what you were doing, he was captivated by you. You were everything to your Daddy.
Jakey. The day you were born Daddy’s heart got even bigger because he had so much more love now that you were born. You only really knew Daddy when he was sick but I have so many fun stories I can’t wait to tell you about him, about how he used to walk around the house when we were growing up with his t-shirt on his head, flexing his muscles and getting in Grammy’s face with annoying sounds. I can’t wait to tell you all the ways I see your Daddy in you because your Dad was a funny guy, just like you. I want to tell you lots of stories about how kind your Daddy was too, because I see that in you so much. Like the time he saw a homeless man and begged Grammy to help him. Your daddy always helped other people, even when he wasn’t well himself. It started when he was your age, and I know when I watch you playing and joking around that you have that same part of him in you. Jakey you are so much like your Dad it makes me smile, and I can’t wait to see the person you become. Even though Daddy isn’t here in person, he is always part of you and will help show you how to become a good man. Never stop laughing and having fun in life, Jake. It is so important.
Let me tell you both, there is not a single day that goes by that I don’t know for a fact that Kristian’s only real regret was not being here to see you grow up. Of all of the things my brother put together, made with his own hands, of all the things he created and did, you two were his greatest works of art. He took more pride in the two of you than any video he made, any song he produced. And I have no doubt he would have traded all those things for a life to see you grow up. So when you feel sad on Father’s Day, talk to us – talk to your mum, to me, to Grammy and Pa, Uncle Jeremy, and Nanna and Poppa. Ask us lots of questions about Daddy. We will help you get to know him as much as we can. And I’m sure that you will find as you grow up, that he is just like you in so many ways.
Cody and Jake, no one loved you the way your Daddy did. I hope on Father’s day that you not only remember that, but that you feel it too.
Always know that Daddy’s family is here for you. We love you, and we loved your Dad.