Dear Dad in 1999,
By this time you know that I’m coming, you’re probably excited. Well, I hope you’re excited. It will fade. Still thinking about names? I think you could’ve done better than ‘Courtney.’ I hope you know that I’ll get your forehead and sense of humor, but that’s really it.
It’s funny, I still don’t know whose nose I got. Mom’s is thin, yours protrudes a little (not to be mean). Or my lips.
I want to ask one thing of you, just one. Please, think before you act.
I understand that you came from broken scotch bottles and silent dinners. You came into this world under hazy circumstances and unclear intentions. I will soon do the same, but won’t know for a few years.
I will never grow up to be ‘Daddy’s Little Princess.’ I won’t understand the notion that a father is supposed to be a girls first love. I will stumble and fall, and you won’t be there to catch me.
Had it been out of your control, I may have understood. But you know what you’re going to do, it’s sitting in your brain, festering. A harmless text to a coworker. Casual night out with a few friends. But soon you’ll stop coming home. You’ll let me and Nicholas sit there, a birthday cake we made you in hand, wondering when Dad will be home.
There will be boozy nights with screaming, crying. Being told to pack our bags, because we’re leaving and Mom won’t be coming with.
There will be a day, where I, at the ripe old age of 6, will grab you by the shoulders and shake you. With tears streaming down my face, I will plead with you not to leave.
But you will.
And then days turn into weeks, months, years, a decade. Being fatherless will become my normal. I truly can’t, for the life of me remember a time in my life where you were there. Problems will arise for me, lack of confidence, a surplus of anxiety, waves of deep depression. All the while you’re summering in Italy and taking trips to Cuba.
I will verge on homelessness, giving up, running away. And you will remain unavailable.
And so here I am, writing to a version of you that no longer exists, pleading like the 6-year-old version of me that doesn’t exist anymore either. Don’t let me be born, save yourself the time, child support, the energy. If you don’t want to be with Mom anymore, leave. But do it right. She still loves you, you know that right?
Do the right thing, Raymond.