This has to be one of the hardest letters I have ever written. xoxo
I’m supposed to be writing you a senior letter, probably without getting emotional. HAHA! Yeah, right. We both know better than that.
Starting with the most mundane, I’ll remind you how proud I am of you. Words cannot tell you how proud I am. You’ve become every bit of the man I had hoped you would when I met you 18 years ago. I prayed you would take the good characteristics of your dad and me and mix them together with your own spin to turn into an amazing man, and you have done that plus so much more. You’re better than I could have dreamed, God truly blessed me more than I deserve. You have a beautiful heart and soul, more than you really know – don’t let life ruin that. You’re more than just smart, you’re sincerely intellectual. You consider all things and analyze the good and bad before making a decision or judgment. That’s really the key to life, kid, so you have a one-up on most people already.
I’ve watched you learn to crawl, walk, talk, and read. I’ve watched you learn to ride a bike, play soccer, play guitar, and drive a car. I’ve watched you walk into your first day of pre-school, kindergarten, middle school, and high school. I’ve watched you drive off to your first job. I’ve watched you go on your first date. I’ve watched you drive off for your senior prom. Soon, I’ll watch you walk up on stage and receive your diploma. Soon, I’ll watch you drive off for your next adventure in the Navy. You have been a joy and blessing to watch and I cannot wait to watch all the next stages in your life.
I admit that when you first told me about your aspirations to join our military, my heart broke. It was a selfish act, and it took a long, long time for me to come to peace with that. I didn’t want to think about you leaving me. You and I have had each other for 18 years, you’re my firstborn and I just wasn’t ready to face the fact that you’ve become an amazing man who doesn’t enter into things lightly. It’s because of this and your infallible reasoning that I got on board and knew in my heart you would do amazing things with this opportunity.
I read somewhere that I’m supposed to tell you what I want for you or expect out of you. Like so many parts of our family and relationship, my wants and expectations aren’t really traditional. Of course, I want you to get an education, find a good job, meet and marry a great girl, start a family, and all that jazz. But, Austin, I want so much more for you. I want you to leave this little town, join the Navy, and see the world. I want you to live with no strings attached. You have such a great opportunity to do things very few people get the chance to do. Since you could read (at the ripe age of 2½) you’ve been fascinated with the world. You’ve been interested in all things history and science. Go see all those countries you have only ever read about. Go see, feel, touch the history of the world and let that experience blow you away. Life is so short, baby, and you have the rest of your life for settling down. Hold off on that day to day grind just a bit longer and make adventure your next path.
What do I expect out of you? Greatness. However, before greatness, I expect you to live your life to the absolute fullest. Drink a beer with your new brotherhood and make stupid decisions that won’t cost you too much in the end – you know like an arrest and big ass tattoos that you’ll regret later (and coming from me that’s saying a LOT). Get your heart broken a few times because until you do, there’s no other way to know real love when it comes to you.
You’re one of my greatest accomplishments in life. If I have done nothing else in this life, I have raised a great boy into a phenomenal man. I know that you’ll take part of me, your dad, your brother, and sister & papa and nana with you along the way and we will help keep you grounded…just enough – not too much.
You’re going to be scared, you’re going to be nervous, and I’m sure there will be days you’ll just want to come home, but those days will be few and far between. You will succeed. You will be ok. You will overcome.
Go start your life, baby – it’s only just beginning. I’m so proud of you and all that you’ve become. I love you with all that I am and all that I have, son.