Dear Will (2022)
In commemoration of Will’s 11th birthday on August 16, 2022.
There is a picture from the day you were born that I have often thought about this spring. We’re in the hospital room, and I am holding you with my back to the TV. There’s a Chicago Cubs game on. I think back to that moment and remember imagining the moments that would come…moments like taking you to your first baseball game, Little League, and watching you play ball. This spring, I watched you develop into a leader on your baseball team. You hit, defended, and were the player your coach counted on to pitch when the game was on the line. I think my heart raced at about 150 beats per minute when that happened, but you stayed calm. This amazed me.
I do not know when you will read these words, so let me clarify my thoughts before going forward. As I told you this spring, I want you to know that I could care less about the results of your athletic progress. These days, there’s too much emphasis on performance, especially when it comes to child athletics. Let me state clearly that my love for you is not conditional. I do not care how well you play golf, baseball, or any other chosen sport. I love you regardless.
My favorite moment of this past baseball season was when you gave up a home run. You had never given up an inside-the-park home run before. The opposing player hit a long pop fly that your right fielder probably should have caught — but instead, the ball dropped and rolled to the fence. It was an instant home run! You brushed it off, shook your head, and had a facial expression that said, “oh well.”
If you can take that attitude with you whenever life hits an inside-the-park home run on you, it will be incredible to witness the places you will go. I care far more about your mindset and character than your performance. To that end, you amaze me even more!
There is always an example of your kindness to behold. Just this morning, for example, you made your brother breakfast. You were not asked to — you simply did it because you wanted it to be ready for him when he came downstairs. The friendship you two share is also something to behold. My prayer is that friendship only deepens in the years to come. Never lose that friendship. Cling to it. It will be a steadying force in the years to come.
Meanwhile, your gentleness to Sadie is instructive to me. Mom and I can tell that you are growing up faster than we would like, yet you are willing to go to Sadie’s level to connect with her. It is humbling to watch you be so kind and loving. It reminds me to similarly meet people where they are, appearances be damned.
As you can tell, the last few years have been hard in many respects. And being your dad has been such a gift to me. That would always have been the case, but in the chaos of the last few years I think I appreciate it more than I would have otherwise. The joy I feel watching a game with you, seeing you before I leave for work, and especially watching you play, is indescribable. It settles my feet on otherwise shaky ground. I hope you read these words years from now and realize the gift your childhood was for me, your dad. They brought light to an otherwise dark time. They gave me life.
And playing catch with you takes me back to 1980-something when I did not have a care in the world. It was, and is, freeing in a way that nothing else is.
I love you, son.
I will always love you.