As I sit here and look at my children in absolute awe, I can't help but think of my father and his impact on my life. He was murdered on the streets of Chicago when I was 7 years old. He had been recently released from prison before his death. I didn't really know my father-I only have memories like snapshots: the prison visiting room or him breaking my mom's nose one night while drunk. I'm sure his impact on my life is similar to the impact I have had being absent in the lives of some of my own children. Today when I look at these boys, I can't help but feel a sense of sadness, not for them, but for their brothers whom they may never know. The thing about recovery is that nobody owes you their forgiveness. There is a very good possibility that I will live the rest of my life without having my older boys in it. I have spent many years hating myself for this, but nothing I have done is enough to fix it. Honestly, it seems like everything I did only made things worse.
Jayce and Carter were not part of my getting sober or finding recovery. They weren't even a real thought in my mind! Me having children, I was way too self-centered for that. I didn't like kids if I am being honest. Today these boys have given me the courage to explore who I truly am. How can I ever raise them to be good men when I had to learn what that was myself. I wasn't a very good father in the past, and just because I got sober, that didn't just miraculously change. I had no idea what I was doing; to make it worse, I didn't have the best examples growing up. Children are to be seen and not heard; that's the era I come from. Apparently, my children didn't get that memo because they are typical rowdy boys. I wouldn't have it any other way. When my boys are at their mom's for the night, and the house is all cozy, clean, and quiet, I hate it! My children have given me life.
I know that as parents, we are responsible for the conception of these children. And some of us just decide to love a kid as our own, even though they don't have our DNA. So most would argue that it is us who gives them life. These two have pushed me without ever doing anything other than loving me. Unconditionally through all of Daddy's learning curves, all of my mistakes have loved me in a way that I could never try to explain. They have given me the strength to get up when I just knew I had nothing left. Even if only to see them smile or hear them laugh puts warmth back into my walls.
I will never really know the truth behind my father's murder; I have never heard the same story twice. All I know is that I have been living without him for 41 years and that he died because of how he lived. He died because he never saw a way out; if he did, he didn't take it. I want my children to know that their daddy lives today because he, too, knows what death feels like. I saw my way out, and it was buried with burden. And there were days I had to close my eyes and remember what that way out looked like because, through the exhaustion, I had lost sight. I didn't know it then; however, that way out led me to them.
Because of one of the father figures I had in my life, I was torn from my home under the guise that it was for my well-being. He was able to manipulate my mother because my father was gone. I will never let that happen, and I will continue to make every possible change in my life to ensure this. If I die tomorrow, it will be because my work here is done. I don't believe that to be true; there is so much left to do. Raising these boys is my honor. Being the man that they will forever look up to is what I strive for. Every day I am with them is like the feeling you get on Christmas morning. You can only truly experience that feeling as a child when you open that gift and realize it's that one thing you wanted more than anything in the world. That is the feeling I get every time my boys come running to their daddy. My children will someday know all about my past; unfortunately, there are some who suffered because of it. For that, I will continue to work a living amends, hoping that one day we will be reunited. Until that day comes, I will continue to work with a fierceness to be the best father and man these boys could ever ask for. They're watching my every move, so I will walk with honor, so they can follow! I love you, boys; you are daddy's heroes!!!