My Dearest Mason,
This past Sunday marked two weeks since your birth and two months since your father was taken to Heaven. My heart hurt so much for you. I wish there was something I could say to make sense of the fact that you will have to grow up never being able to physically meet your dad. I look at you and I see this beautiful, innocent little life who did not ask to be here, who does not deserve to grow up fatherless. It makes me angry. I will endure whatever pain I must to protect you as much as possible, but the reality of it is, this is not something I can protect you from. This isn’t something Mommy can ever make better or kiss away. It makes me feel so helpless.
All I can promise to do is give you all the love in my heart and to talk to you about your dad every day. To show you pictures of him, tell you stories about him, and answer your questions about him as you get older. I know those questions will come – and I know some of them will be difficult for me to hear. But I’m prepared for that. I will do whatever I can to make you feel close to him. But I ask for your forgiveness and understanding in advance because I know I will fall short sometimes. Please just always remember how much I love you and how much I will ALWAYS love him.
Let me start telling you a little about the amazing man your father was…
He was mostly known for having a heart so big it barely fit inside his chest. He was always willing to give anyone the shirt off his back, to help in any way he could. He didn’t have a malicious bone in his body.
He was crazy smart. Seriously, your dad was a brain. He always got straight A’s while growing up, graduated as valedictorian from Saint Brendan’s elementary/middle school and then was second in his class when he graduated from Columbus High School. He got into many colleges, including Harvard. He faced some opposition/criticism when he decided he wanted to go to FIU and get a degree in Mathematics Education while persuing his dream to become a firefighter/paramedic. But he knew what he wanted, and he went for it. During his last semester at FIU, he was taking 12 credits worth of classes (actually, it may have been 15 now that I think about it), going to paramedic school at night, completing all the necessary clinical rotations on weekends, and still managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA and graduate Summa Cum Laude. Oh, and I forgot to mention he completed his bachelor’s degree in 3 years instead of 4. He was an incredibly hard worker, which is a quality I hope to teach you.
Your dad accomplished everything he set his mind to. That was his nature- whatever he did, he did all the way. He finished Coral Springs Fire Academy with the title of Most Outstanding Student. When he completed the City of Miami Fire Academy, he was awarded the Manuel Padron Award, also an honor given to the top recruit. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would have aced that lieutenant’s exam and would have worked his way up to chief one day.
He was an adrenaline junkie who loved to fish, work out, play sports, drink beer, watch movies and TV, lounge on the couch, spend days out on the boat, going to Bass Pro Shops just to browse, playing pranks on his friends. He loved me. He made sure I knew it everyday. He loved you so much and was SO excited the day we found out you were going to be a boy. Please never doubt that he wanted to be your dad more than anything.
Lastly, I just have to mention that your father was the most handsome man I ever laid my eyes on. (Well, actually, now tied with only you.) He always made my butterflies rumble, but when he got all dressed up in a suit, tux, or when I saw him wearing his uniform – wow! Okay, sorry – Mommy is embarrassing you, I’m sure.
You would think with everything I have mentioned, that your dad had reason to be full of himself, right? But he wasn’t. He did not possess an ounce of arrogance. He was the most humble person I’ve ever known and had a way of building other people up, of bringing out the best in them. He always brought out the best in me.
Mason, I could go on forever about your dad. He was the absolute love of my life. I know I’ll never be able to fill his shoes, but I promise to give you my all and do my best to teach you to be the selfless, humble, respectful, hardworking, loving, loyal, joyful, fearless, determined man your father was. Anything you want to know, just ask.
You now own my whole heart,