Once a week my wife and I send our two children — just 1 1/2 and three weeks old, respectively — letters to email accounts they won't check (or even know about) for years. It's a way for us to effortlessly send them our love and simultaneously build a digital treasure trove of pictures, hugs, special moments and feelings, to be excavated (and embarrassed by) when they're ready.
This is the letter I sent them today. Happy Birthday, Andy!
Good morning, guys!
Today, July 11th, is a special day. It’s Andy’s birthday. He would have been 36 today — probably losing his hair!
This morning we read our Andy book in bed while you both had your milk, and we talked about what a good friend Andy was to me, and to Uncle Shane, Uncle Casey, and Loosh and Jay and Matt and Ivan and so many more. He was loyal and dedicated, and true — qualities I try to nurture in you both every day. He was also pretty short and very quick — qualities that made him both a wonderful soccer player, and quite the escape artist in moments of real, imaginary or self-induced danger.
I’ve now lived two years longer than Andy did, and in the time since he passed, my beliefs about family and love have only been reinforced. All we can do is consider the people we love, and if we do that, and do it every day, we’ll go through this life with a core of people we can love and depend on. We can love them in their hardest moments, and their best, out in the open for all to see and in private, at their most vulnerable. We only go through this life once, and it’s best experienced with a highly concentrated dose of love. I only hope you can both find those friends who love you back, and that you treat them the way Andy treated us. Like family. We share everything with them: our blocks and trains, dolls and books, laughter and tears, hugs and goodbyes. Everything is better shared with a friend like Andy.
We can’t take anything with us when we go, but regardless of what this life holds for us after we fade away, we leave behind the relationships we nourished along the way. Our through-line isn’t the places we go or the things we touch, it’s the people we choose to experience them with: our partners (like Mom is for me) our children, our brothers and sisters and moms and dads, and our friends — the family we get to choose. I wouldn’t trade mine for the world.
I hope you have a wonderful day. Tonight we’ll have your very first ice cream, and we’ll celebrate the man who makes me want to be a better husband, father, brother, son and friend.