Dear Son, This is the hardest letter I have ever written…

Dear Son,

I am a father, a husband, a son, and a friend…and I have a brain tumor. If you have met me, you know that I have been very positive about my fight with my tumor, and that I plan on living a very long life. I have blogged about this before. I talked about the happy things, how being positive helps deal with this, and the good things that came out of this.

The truth is — I am afraid. Having a brain tumor makes me sad sometimes, and I rarely like to be alone with my thoughts. My wife has always been a wonderful distraction when it comes to my thoughts in regards to the brain tumor. The past few days I have been parenting solo as my wife has been away at a conference for the school she teaches at. I have had a chance to spend extra one on one time with my son, and it’s been great. He is so fun and lovable. He is one of best things that has ever happened to me. The top of my bucket list was always having my own little family.

With just him and me, I am alone with my thoughts. My son talks, but I have no idea what he is saying. He listens, but in his own toddler way. He pays attention to everything I do, but isn’t quite sure why I do the things I do. He has his own thoughts. One thought that haunts me is that one day I am going to have to explain my situation to him.

I thought the best way to do this was to write him a letter… yes I am writing a 15 month old a letter. I’ll have him read it when he is old enough to fully understand what is going on. I don’t even know when that will be.

July 15th, 2014

Dear Patrick,

You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You are the first member of our family. Right now you are 15 months old. You can’t read, but you do a good job at pretending. I have enjoyed seeing you grow up, and expect that you will do big things in the world. You are the smartest, most lovable, curious and exciting toddler I know. The past few days it has just been you and me while mommy has been away at the conference. I am writing this letter to you now because one day I will need you to read this before we talk. The last couple of days got me thinking…I need to tell you something.

On April 19th of 2012, 355 days before you were born, I found out that I have a brain tumor. Don’t worry…it’s one of the best ones I could have. I guess you could say that I got lucky when it came to that.

A lot of people were very upset when we heard the news. Mommy and I had a tough time getting through it, but we kept positive. In July we found out that she was pregnant with you. It was the best thing that has ever happened to us. You were our little ray of hope.

I wrote this letter knowing that one day I will have to sit you down and explain what is going on with me. Parenting is already hard enough, but that will be the hardest thing I will ever do. I remember the day we found out we were sitting and looking out to the lake. Your mom turned to me with tears in her eyes and said “One day we will have to explain this to our children.”  Patrick, I dread this day…and I have thought about it a lot in the past few days. I wish I could tell you now and that you will fully understand the situation. I have already told you…but you have no clue what I am saying anyways. It will take many years to get to the point where we can explain everything.

Again I am writing you this letter to explain the future. Patrick, my greatest fear in life is that I won’t be around for the big milestones in your life such as your graduation from high school, your first day at college, your wedding and becoming a grandfather of your first child. It scares the crap out me buddy. Now I know I am not going to depart this world today or tomorrow or even in the next ten years, but I know that day will eventually come.

I want you to know that you changed my life. You changed the way I think about the world. You taught me that love is the most important thing in life. When I found out that you were on your way into this world, I decided to be the best father I could be to you…or at least do my best. I am going to mess up sometimes, but everyone does. You’ll learn.

So you see little man, I won’t be around forever. Maybe I’ll live to be 100 and you will be 70. You never know what is going to happen. No matter how long I am around I will be there for you and love you every single day.

I do want to give you a few pieces of advice:

  1. Love is the most important thing in life.  Without love, your life will be filled with unhappiness. Love your family and friends. Offer love to everyone you meet as it will make all the difference.
  2. Learn something from your family and friends. Your family and friends are really important. You’re going to need them to get through life. Maybe not directly, but if you look hard enough, you will see that each one of them taught you something at some point. Remember to look for that lesson.
  3. Change the world. This seemingly impossible task is one thing I have aimed to do in my lifetime. You already changed mine. Just know that just being you can change the world.
  4. Money isn’t everything. Make the most out of what you have. Do what you are passionate about. When it comes the time to pick a job — take the one you want. Don’t consider the money. I can tell you that you will rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable.
  5. Remember that the grass is always greener on the other side. Someday you will compare yourself to others and want what they have, but many people are going to want what you have. Be happy with your life and what you have.
  6. Dream BIG. Make sure you do what you want to do and do the work to get there.
  7. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. I remember one time someone came up to me and said being an idealist is the worst thing you could be. That I couldn’t make a difference, I strived to prove this person wrong. I did just that. I changed lives. I made a difference. I made a change in the world.
  8. Set your goals high. If you set them low you will always achieve them. That’s boring.
  9. Take risks. Don’t be a ‘what if’ guy. Take chances. You will regret the risks you don’t take one day.
  10. Life is cruel sometimes. There is no way around this one. There will be bad things that happen in life. Learn from them, they will make you stronger.
  11. Be Awkward. It’s ok to be weird and make situations uncomfortable. There always has to be that one awkward guy in the bunch… you can learn this from your weird dad.
  12. Lastly, your mom is always right…don’t even question her. I still haven’t learned that fully yet.

So that’s all I have to say. You are an amazing part in my life. I can’t wait to see what you make of the world. Be you.



P.S. Thanks for puking on me this morning.


dave and patrick

Dave is the Dad side of Ready…Set…Parenthood!  I love when he contributes to the site!  You can check out his other post, So You’re a New Dad?, from shortly after Patrick was born.  Let him know you like his work so I can get him to post more!  He is an amazing Dad and partner, and supports everything I do!  Thank you so much for this post Dear. I know it was a tough one to write.

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    Tessa says:

    Beautiful letter. In response to “The grass is always greener on the other side,” it does seem that way, but I found a saying in relation that I love: “The grass is greener where you water it.”

    What an amazing post and amazing father. Wishing you all the best. It’s a beautiful concept that your son can read and cherish this letter eventually.

    Jeff says:

    Thank you for a wonderful heart felt letter. I lost my dad when I was a child never had the one on one talks never had chance to spend father’s day with him or even share a bear with him . your post opens my eyes to know it was just as hard for him to lose us as it was for us to lose him GOD BLESS YOU

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