To: Simon, From: Dad

Simon, my dear son,

This morning I was reflecting on what a year it has been for your mom.  She has been broken by your leaving us, but not irreparably crushed.  She has displayed joy in the worst of times.  She surrendered valiantly so she wouldn't be defeated or taken as a victim.  Grace seems to emanate from her at times, and she brings light just when I'm feeling dark.  I don't need to tell you what an amazing mom she is though.  You know what a safe place she is.  You know her better than you know anyone else.  She cries for you often.  She misses you and loves you so very much.

We have missed you so much since you left us.  I have replayed the 7 days and 22 minutes that I got to spend with you over and over in my head.  I just talked to your mom about how much we got to do with you.  We ate breakfast.  We stayed up late.  We took a stroller walk and you loved being outside.  We took a lot of pictures.  You slept in our bed our bed every night (don't tell Teddy).  You spent almost every minute of those 7 days and 22 minutes in our arms.

So much has happened since you left us.  We had an amazing celebration for you.  So many people showed up to honor your life and listen to us talk about you!  The music, the flowers, the food - everything was amazing.  A great number of people have said the best things about you to me and your mom.  You put a lot of tears in a lot of peoples eyes, to be sure.  But how many more hugs were given?  How many more "I love yous" were spoken?  How man more prayers were lifted up?  How many more hearts were changed?  How many people saw God's grace in a new way?

I remember one other dad, that I barely know, told us that he left work early when he read that you had died because he wanted to hug and hold his kids.  There's a few hugs that I know you helped give, for sure.

Simon, I could make a huge list of the blunders I've heard spoken to me over the last year about you.  I'll keep it short and just tell you that anything someone said that started with the words, "at least," always followed with something that pained me to hear.  As your dad, I've received plenty of "stay strong" or "be Amy's rock" type of messages from people.  What I really wanted to hear was, "It's OK to be weak right now."  I would have started crying if another man asked me, "What was it like to hold Simon during his last minutes on Earth?"  But no man wants to watch another man cry.  Few men wants to be responsible for making their buddy cry.  Few men want to potentially encounter their own emotions as they sit across from a broken-hearted comrade.  I haven't encountered many men that feel comfortable saying your name, Simon.  It grieves me and it hurts.  

You continue to change me, Simon.  My separation from you means that my heart has been cracked open, and it is beyond repair.  I'm thankful for that.  I'm thankful that now when I hear a story about a friend's 3-year old son being in the ICU, I weep.  I'm grateful that I dropped to my knees and the tears flowed as I prayed and begged for God to save both of the twin girls in the womb of a dear friend's wife.  I don't want my heart to "find closure."  I'm comfortable sitting in the brokenness as long as it allows me (in a small way) to see people the way our loving Savior sees them.  God's work through you took me to this place of empathy, and I love you for that.

I'm so proud of you, my dear boy.  You never spoke a word, yet you said so much.  Your life impacted and continues to impact so many people.  But for the grace of God, how could this happen?  I like to imagine you nodding and smiling and thinking, "I don't know, dad.  I don't know how they could not see how much God loves them."

I will say goodbye again for now.  Know that I have steadfast hope that I will see you again one day.  My hope is based in something real, or rather, someone real.  You know him now better than I do.  What a just reward for a hero.

I love you,


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