Dear Josiah Drew,
I don’t think I’ve ever written you a letter. I’ve written a ton about you, but never to you.
I apologize for that. I hope this helps.
Today, you’re three years old. It really seems like just yesterday you were born. Your mom and I were so nervous about being parents, that when we brought you home from the hospital, we didn’t take you out of the carseat immediately. Instead, we just looked at you, wondering how we could unstrap you without hurting your little chicken arms.
For several months, everything seemed to be fine. Looking back, it is painfully clear now that something was wrong. Thankfully, your pediatrician wanted to have some additional tests run at your six-month checkup.
Thank God for Dr. Hanson finding what ended up being cancer.
We were so scared. Scared of losing you, scared of losing ourselves. Scared of everything.
The first 72 hours after your checkup were a whirlwind, but you kept calm through most of it. This photo is of you, two days before surgery. It is still my favorite photo of you as a baby:
The day before your operation, our pastor, Rev. Jeffrey Lancaster, baptized you in your hospital bed. We had so many visitors, the CEO of the hospital came to visit that evening to see what the fuss was about, and to encourage us.
You came through your surgery very, very well, and soon started treatment at St. Jude. Again, we were so scared, and again, you were so sweet and so playful, it helped us forget you were so sick.
Over the next year, we spent weeks and weeks at St. Jude getting treatment. In many ways, the hospital campus is more your home than our apartment. Even today, just about everyone at the hospital knows you. Your waves, smiles and “See you later!” comments capture everyone’s hearts.
You have gone through so much. I know you’ve been scared. I know you’ve been in pain. But you haven’t let these things beat you. You’re always happy — laughing, making faces and singing.
You’re walking and talking so well, it’s hard to notice your limp or stutter. You run around in circles, fling yourself on piles of clothes and whisper in our ears that you love us.
You are the funniest, kindest person I know.
Your resilience to all of the crap life has thrown at you amazes and encourages me. I’ve come so close to giving up so many times. I’m ashamed to say it, knowing that your short life has been a lot harder than mine. Any time I’ve wanted to just go to sleep and never wake up, the thought of not seeing you in the morning has stayed my hand.
I’m so sorry that you’ve had to deal with cancer. I wish that I could take your place. I wish I could go back and somehow save you from this. I wish I could spend more time with you, and less time at the office, or writing, or whatever else I do instead of playing with you and you ever-growing collection of toy cars.
I wish I was a better father, a better husband and a better person through all of it. You, your mom and your sister deserve far better than this disease — and the screwed up husband and father I so often am.
I hope one day you can forgive me for my poor choices.
Happy birthday, SiSi. I’m so happy to be telling you this for the third year in a row. Here’s to many more.