This will be a first of many letters I write. Truth is, I’ve always thought of writing a book of letters to you, and even recently my best friend, who is your Aunt Katie, advised me to write letters to you and send them to her and she’d keep them until you were ready to read them. So years ago and recently I’ve tried, it’s no great excuse but I’d get too emotional somehow, and my hand would tighten and start shaking. I couldn’t write a sentence! Here is where technology plays in, I guess it’s easier to type away, ironically the thing that keeps people at distance is what I’m using to hopefully bring you close again. Even now it’s hard, I finally got pictures of you after all these years…and my head screamed the same thing yours would if you saw me…”Who are you?!” I last remember a baby I used to feed, change, nap and shower with, a baby I watched born at 8lbs 5.8oz (which is incredible on my part because your father is hardcore yet squeamish) and now you are tall and grown, taking selfies in the mirror looking every bit like your mom. I can’t even see myself in you, I don’t know if it’s shame or guilt that blinds me and refuses to let me see myself in you. After all, it’s been your mother that’s been there the whole time. I lost myself and flew down the drain quickly after her and I split, I didn’t deal with my hurt well and it made me into a bad guy for awhile. You are my greatest regret from my greatest moment once upon a time at your birth. I want to tell you how much I love you, but what would that mean to you right now? I want to tell you that I am really a good man although I admitted that I became bad at one time, but how can you even fathom any good? I heard a quote and I asked the question with a twist, “if a man can become a monster, can that monster become a man again?” For so long I couldn’t see how or believe it, but often we are our own worst enemy and critic. I want to say that you got your athleticism and intellect from me, but you wouldn’t know that either? I see your mother’s smile, that smile that use to drive me crazy. How do I say when, where and why things went wrong? I can say it’s my fault. But what would sorry mean to you if you have a whole life without my presence, you don’t even know if you really are missing anything. I will say that there is so much to say, and this is the start of a series. I’m going to open up and tell you everything about me and my every mistake, your mom was perfect, and as for the blame, I will bear, without regret, on my shoulders…your dad is beasty strong too. What I will tell you is that you have a younger brother that doesn’t know about you yet, but one day when the timing is right, (I wish that was now because I shouldn’t be another reason for anything withheld in your life). He’s a ball of fire, and I know he’d look up to you because the young man I’ve heard about is nothing short of amazing. Baseball is all you, I never played it but your little brother Treyvan just started. He is 6. What I will tell you is I have fought to become a better man and I will succeed because you deserve a great father once I am able to come back into your life. I feel I don’t deserve a chance, but I will fight in every way that you can’t see now, but that will manifest one day within you. I won’t just be a father that’s been to prison, I will be a great example, a patient, humble, encouraging and loving father able to provide from doing what I love, because no matter the mistake, if you believe, and have the right people in your corner, you can do anything. So with that said, you have an Aunt to meet that has been in my corner and helped me want more and see myself beyond my past and as she knew me to be. But that’s in another chapter. I’m not a traditional type of person, I write as I feel although I’m organized, so I hope you take this rollercoaster ride with me. I’m tough but I’m a sucker for a love story, so I got this idea from the notebook. You are the love that I hope against all odds comes back to me one day, if not for love right away, then for answers. Finally…I can breathe, though my chest is tight and I may still tear up looking at your pics. I could go on but I’m going to restrain myself and do this step by step. I’ve given you one goodbye that lasted so many years, but never again, I will say goodbye many times because I’ll be coming right back many more. Goodbye Josiah, I love you
Russell H. Wardlow
p.s. I hope you don’t mind if I share my letters to you, it’s how I heal and stay open and honest. I’ve hid long enough, truth is for the light son.