We don’t talk much anymore, and I’m really not sure how that happened. When I think back on times when you were small, it brings a smile, often accompanied by painful tears. How I miss those times when I was your hero and you were my little prince and princess. Your giggle, the way you said “Daddy” when I walked through the door after work, or how you would run at me, on the edge of out of control, just to show me something you had drawn or built. I was your “Superman”. I was “Daddy”.
Then I became just “Dad”. Maybe I worked too much at the office, or didn’t engage you enough when we were in the same room? Was it the relational meltdown between your mother and me? Or the time we spent apart after the divorce, when I became a long-distance, part-time father and so many things were said about me? Was it your new stepmom? You know, she loves you like you are her own, even when it isn’t reciprocal.
Or maybe it was meeting Jesus as I slowly lost you at the same time? As He changed me into the man that I needed to be, I tried to bring you with me on the journey. But your memories of the “old me” and your “old life” overpowered the transformation, as you wondered what happened to your father.
Whatever the reason, the chasm between us quickly grew wide and nearly impossible to jump over. And then you moved away.
Now I’m a stranger. I’m the guy you only call when something breaks, or when your life isn’t going as planned. It hurts to know that we’re like this now. But every time you call, I still hear “Daddy” reverberating in my mind, and I do what I can to somehow regain that “S” that I used to wear on my chest. And then you’re gone again.
They say there are always two people involved in every relationship, and I realize that I’m only half of “us”. But let me say this:
I’m sorry for those times when I wasn’t there when you needed me to be.
I’m sorry that you had to endure the pain of loss in your life at such a young age.
I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you how proud I was of you as a person, no matter what you did or didn’t do.
I’m sorry if my actions and my words were miles apart sometimes, and when we ourselves were miles apart geographically, too.
I’m sorry I didn’t meet Jesus before you were born, because I would have been a much better father.
Please forgive me for any hurt that I caused you.
And know this: I love you very much. You’re my children and nothing will ever change that. I don’t expect you to understand this until you have kids of your own. The unconditional love a father feels for his sons and daughters is like nothing else in the world. There is no favoritism, there’s no way to downgrade it and there’s no way to lose it.
No matter what you do or say, regardless of success or failure, I am and always will be proud of you. Nothing you can do will ever cause me to “unlove” you.
I hope that I can really be a part of your life again someday. I pray that we can again all be together for the holidays. No anger, no hurt, no bitterness. Just love.
And, just like yesterday and all the days before that, I’ll be here, waiting for God to push the Holy “Reset” button. I hope to see you soon.
David Dusek is founder and director of Rough Cut Men Ministries and author of Rough Cut Men: A Man’s Battle Guide to Building Real Relationships With Each Other and With Jesus. Rough Cut Men has been presented to NASCAR teams, at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy, at military bases around the world and at hundreds of churches and men’s conferences of every denomination. To find out more about the Rough Cut Men, or to book David for an upcoming men’s event, please check out roughcutmen.com.