I suppose I’m writing this to give you hope. Or to explain things as they are right now, because things don’t make sense. Or to let you know that your dad hasn't given up, despite all his best efforts going for naught, (so far.)
More than anything, I’m writing this because we don’t talk as much as we used to. You’re growing up and you've become a wonderful, brilliant, beautiful, intelligent, talented, passionate, wise young woman, despite the circumstances that have surrounded your dad. You've hung in there as life dealt some cruel blows and you've seen the worst that a person can go through. You're older now and hanging with Dad isn't cool like it once was.
I want you to know, first of all, how very proud I am of you. I am proud of who you are and what you have become. I am proud of the fierce loyalty you show your friends. I am proud of your moral standards, and your deep devotion to Jesus, and to this Faith we claim. I am proud that you have stuck by me and never once voiced embarrassment, anger, disappointment, or distrust as I walked through this dark desert God has seen fit to allow. You've believed, encouraged, and been thankful for everything I was able to do for you, and never voiced disappointment for what I could not do for you.
Your sixteenth birthday approaches and for the second time in almost 6 years, your dad is homeless. I know I don’t have to explain it to you. I know you have been watching and you know how hard I am trying. I refuse to quit in the face of this calamity. When I was working on my degree and finally graduated in 2012, it was so you would see that your dad has forced something good from something so bad. I walked across that stage and got that diploma and the one person I cared about making proud was you.
When I returned to carpentry after still no jobs were available, I made sure I showed you the work I was doing, because I wanted you to know I was working hard, and I was doing beautiful work, and I was trying. Trying to fix this disaster. I remember taking you to a job this winter, and the look of pride on your face when you saw an office I’d built. It was only a couple of walls and a door and some trim, but watching your dad do it and seeing him work made you proud. I could tell. And in return, it made me proud to.
We've talked about it before...why I stayed here when I could have gone somewhere else and rebuilt my life. I know the feeling of having a dad somewhere else in the world different from where I am. I will never do that to you. When you go off to college or if you move away as an adult, that’s different. But while you are (technically) a child, you will never wake up in a town where your dad doesn't live. Even if “living” means he is sleeping in a truck.
I am trying. I am working. You've seen the work I do. You know my life and my values. You know what happened. I am sorry. I’m sorry we don’t have our house anymore. I miss Bonnie and Cooper and Giacomo and Willy. They were more than pets, they were our family. I miss our garden. Caring for animals and growing things were just two of the many things you are good at and I miss doing those things with you.
I am writing also, because I want to encourage you. No matter what has happened, God is still good. He is still righteous and somehow, some way, this is part of His plan, for you and for me. I question Him, I doubt Him sometimes, I even curse at Him occasionally. I suppose that’s not right, and I repent of it when it happens. But God understands us and He knows that we sometimes hit out limits. I have hit mine again and again. I try figuring this out. I try seeing good in it. But so much time has gone by now and still, every time I try to fix this, something happens to set me back. Dr. Falwell always said, “A man is not measured by what it takes to knock him down, but by what it takes to keep him down.” I wish you could have known Dr. Falwell. He was an amazing man. He was my hero, and heroes are what keep you moving when you want to stop.
I hope I am your hero one day. I hope this story ends soon and the final chapter is wonderful and we look back and we are thankful for all we have endured together because it was all worth it. Sitting here today...it’s hard to see that.
I want you to know I am still trying, and I will not stop trying. I will not quit and I will not give up and I will not take the easy road if that road takes me away from you. Because a dad gives comfort and security and a dad is just supposed to be there. And I will. I’ll do what it takes and endure this difficulty because that’s what daddies do. They stand firm when others collapse. They dig in when others crumble.
Maybe this will be the year for us. Maybe this will be the time when things turn around and stay turned around. Regardless, I will not stop trying. Because above all else...I love you. I fall asleep each night thinking of you and seeing your face in my mind. Most of the time it makes me cry. I’m man enough to admit that. I still have dreams for you and I still want them to come true. I pray for you every day. I still believe in prayer and in a God who answers them. We are not promised answers we like. We are only promised that if we accept the answer He gives us we will eventually be happier than if we fight the answers we don’t like.
More than anything, I want to remind you how much I love you. How I have loved you since the moment we knew you’d be coming. How that love has endured, grown and gives me courage and strength in the face of this devastation. Because I love you...I will not quit. One day we’ll see the result of not quitting. Until then...remember that your dad loves you. And he’s doing his best for you. Never give up hope.