Father’s Day. This statement holds more meaning to me than I ever thought it would. Not only because you are my son, but also because of strength you have and you are too young to even really know it. I knew I would always be proud of you, but I didn’t know it would be so soon and so much.
I remember the day you were diagnosed with leukemia like it was yesterday. I remember my dad, your grandpa, thinking it was crazy that I thought you had leukemia before you were ever diagnosed. I believe that being a father, you are supposed to always think positive and you never really believe anything bad will ever happen to your son. But something inside me had me really concerned and it ended up being true. That was the very moment you became one of the strongest people I have ever met. And you were only 2 ½.
You were probably too young to truly remember everything that you went through for over 3 years of your young life, but it was more than I have in nearly 40 years of mine. You have had more needle sticks, surgeries, lumbar punctures, blood transfusions, feeding tubes, physical therapy, heart scans, ICU visits, and chemotherapy than you will ever remember. But remember when I said I didn’t know how proud of you I would be? Well, it’s how you embraced it. You did all of this with a smile on your face. Yes, there were tough times, but you never complained, you just thought this was life. You took every needle stick with a straight arm watching the whole process. You got up and walked when your body hardly could after your first month of treatment. Had chemotherapy in the morning? You wanted to go to the park with your little brother in the afternoon. You were facing such grown-up challenges, and for the most part, you did it all with a smile on your face. And now, to see you growing into a strong, intelligent, caring young man, makes me the proudest father ever.
I would often have people come up to me and say, “I don’t know how you can do it.” My response is simply, “You would do the same if you were in my shoes.” That is what you taught me. You taught me how to be a father, even in the worst of times. You have taught me that there is no book on how to be a father, you just have to wake up and do it.
I think about the time that you were sick daily. I often think about if you being diagnosed with cancer at the age you were changed the course of your life in a direction that was not intended. Would you still love video games as much as you do? Would you still only like cheese pizza or noodles with no sauce? I also wonder if your diagnosis changed me as a father in a direction that was not intended. Whatever the course, I just hope you are as proud to call me your father as I am to call you my son.
You are my hero!