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A Father's Final Letter to his Son

Dear son, If you’re reading this, I’m dead. I’m sorry.

By 💸 Build Your Future 💸Published about a year ago 10 min read
A Father's Final Letter to his Son
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Death is always a surprise. Nobody expected it. Even terminally ill patients do not believe they will die within a day or two. Maybe in a week. But only if that particular week is next week.

We are never ready. It's never the right time. By the time we do, you won't have done everything we want you to do. The ending is always unexpected, a tearful moment for widows and a boring moment for kids who don't quite understand what a funeral is (thank goodness).

My father was no different. In fact, his death was even more unexpected. He left us at the age of 32. The same age that several famous musicians died. He is too young. My father was neither a musician nor a celebrity. Cancer does not choose victims.

He passed away when I was young, and I learned of the funeral because of him. I was eight and a half years old at the time, and I had missed him all my life. If he died before then, I have no memory. I don't feel pain. But I will not have a father in my life. I have a father.

I have a father who is both strict and fun. Someone who tells jokes before grounding me. That way I won't be so sad. Someone who kisses my forehead before I go to sleep. A habit of mine passed on to my children. Someone asked me to support the same football team he supported and explained things better than my mother. you know what I mean? You miss such a father.

He never told me he was going to die. Even as he lay on a hospital bed full of tubes, he didn't speak. My dad made plans for next year, even though he knew he wouldn't be there next month. Next year we'll go fishing, we'll travel, we'll visit places we've never been. Next year will be a great year. We live the same dream.

I think - actually I'm pretty sure - he thinks it should bring good luck. He is a superstitious man. Thinking about the future is what he found to keep hope alive. Bastards gave me the last laugh. He knows about it. He didn't tell me. He didn't see me cry.

Suddenly, the next year is over before it even begins.

Mom picked me up from school and we drove to the hospital. Doctors told the news with all the sensitivity that doctors have lost over the years. My mother cried. She has little hope. As the kind that doctors treat with a syringe? I hate your dad I feel cheated. In the hospital, I screamed angrily until I realized my dad wasn't there to ground me. I cried.

Then my father became my father again. A nurse came to comfort me with a shoebox under her arm. The box is filled with sealed envelopes with addresses where they should go. I don't understand what's going on. Then the nurse gave me a letter. The only letter that works out of the box.

"Your father asked me to give you this letter. He's been writing these all week, and he wants you to read them. Be strong," the nurse said, holding me tightly.

The envelope read “WHEN I’M GONE.” I opened it.


If you’re reading this, I’m dead. I’m sorry. I knew I was going to die.

I didn’t want to tell you what was going to happen, I didn’t want to see you crying. Well, it looks like I’ve made it. I think that a man who’s about to die has the right to act a little bit selfish.

Well, as you can see, I still have a lot to teach you. After all, you don’t know crap about anything. So I wrote these letters for you. You must not open them before the right moment, OK? This is our deal.

I love you. Take care of your mom. You’re the man of the house now.

Love, dad.

PS: I didn’t write letters to your mom. She’s got my car.

He made me stop crying with his terrible handwriting. Printing was not easy back then. His ugly handwriting, which I could barely read, calmed me down. It makes me smile. That's what my father did. Like the joke before the grounding.

The box became the most important thing in the world for me. I told my mom not to open it. These letters are mine and no one can read them. I remember all the moments of my life written on the envelope. But it takes a while for these moments to happen. I forgot.

He made me stop crying with his terrible handwriting. Printing was not easy back then. His ugly handwriting, which I could barely read, calmed me down. It makes me smile. That's what my father did. Like the joke before the grounding.

The box became the most important thing in the world for me. I told my mom not to open it. These letters are mine and no one can read them. I remember all the moments of my life written on the envelope. But it takes a while for these moments to happen. I forgot.

I can vividly picture the slap she gave me for pronouncing "bar." I'll be honest: I earned it. Over time, I came to understand that. I recalled the box and the messages at the time, when the slap had just happened and my flesh was still burning. "WHEN YOU HAVE THE WORST FIGHT EVER WITH YOUR MOM," the letter that sprang to mind said.

I searched my entire bedroom for it, which caused me to receive yet another slap in the face. On top of the wardrobe, I discovered the package in a bag. in limbo I discovered as I flipped through the letters that I had neglected to open "WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR FIRST KISS."

I decided that would be the letter I would open after feeling guilty about what I had done. The letter titled "WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR VIRGINITY" was the next one in the stack, and I was eager to read it.

Eventually, I found what I was looking for.

Now apologize to her.

I don’t know why you’re fighting and I don’t know who’s right. But I know your mother. So a humble apology is the best way to get over this. I’m talking about a down-on-your-knees apology.

She’s your mother, kid. She loves you more than anything in this world. Do you know that she went through natural birth because someone told her that it would be the best for you? Have you ever seen a woman giving birth? Do you need a bigger proof of love than that?

Apologize. She’ll forgive you.

Love, Dad.

My father worked as a bank clerk and wasn't much of a writer. But I was deeply affected by what he said. They were remarks that were wiser than I was at the time, which was 15 years old. (However, it wasn't that difficult to accomplish.)

I quickly opened the door to my mother's room. She turned her head to look me in the eyes while I was sobbing. She was sobbing as well. I can't recall the exact words she yelled at me. Something along the lines of "What do you want?" I do recall approaching her while holding the letter my father had written.

While my hands were tearing up the old paper, I was holding her in my arms. She gave me a hug, and then we both stood still.

A few minutes later she laughed at the letter from my father. We reconciled and had a little discussion of him. She informed me of some of his strangest practices, including pairing salami with strawberries. I had the impression that he was seated directly next to us. Me, my mother, and the paper-based memento that my father left for us. It was pleasant.

I quickly finished reading "WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR VIRGINITY."

Congratulations, son.

Don’t worry, it gets better with time. It always sucks the first time. Mine happened with an ugly woman… who was also a prostitute.

My biggest fear is that you’d ask your mother what virginity is after reading what’s on the letter. Or even worse, reading what I just wrote without knowing what jerking off is (you know what it is, right?). But that’s none of my business.

Love, Dad.

My father has been by my side my entire life. Even though he was far away from me, he was still with me. His comments accomplished what no one else could: they gave me the willpower to get through all the difficult times I had to face. When things seemed bleak, he would always find a way to make me smile, or calm my frazzled nerves.

“WHEN YOU GET MARRIED” made me feel very emotional. But not so much as “WHEN YOU BECOME A FATHER.”

Now you’ll understand what real love is, son. You’ll realize how much you love her, but real love is something you’ll feel for this little thing over there. I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. I’m just a corpse, I’m not a fortune teller.

Have fun. It’s a great thing. Time is gonna fly now, so make sure you’ll be around. Never miss a moment, they never come back. Change diapers, bathe the baby, be a role model for this child. I think you have what it takes to be an amazing father, just like me.

The most painful letter I read in my entire life was also the shortest letter my father wrote. While he wrote those four words, I believe he suffered just as much as I did living through that moment. It took a while, but eventually, I had to open “WHEN YOUR MOTHER IS GONE.”

She is mine now.

A joke. A sad clown hiding his sadness with a smile on his makeup. It was the only letter that didn’t make me smile, but I could see the reason.

I always kept the deal I had made with my father. I never read letters before their time. With the exception of “WHEN YOU REALIZE YOU’RE GAY.” Since I never thought I’d have to open this one, I decided to read it. It was one of the funniest letters, by the way.

What can I say? I’m glad I’m dead.

Now, all joking aside, being half-dead made me realize that we care too much about things that don’t matter much. Do you think that changes anything, son?

Don’t be silly. Be happy.

I would always wait for the next moment, the next letter. The next lesson my father would teach me. It’s amazing what a 27-year-old man can teach to an 85-year-old senior like me.

Now that I am lying on a hospital bed, with tubes in my nose and my throat thanks to this damn cancer, I run my fingers on the faded paper of the only letter I didn’t open. The sentence “WHEN YOUR TIME COMES” is barely visible on the envelope.

I don’t want to open it. I’m scared. I don’t want to believe that my time is near. It’s a matter of hope, you know? No one believes they’re gonna die.

I take a deep breath, opening the envelope.

Hello, son. I hope you’re an old man now.

You know, this letter was the easiest to write, and the first I wrote. It was the letter that set me free from the pain of losing you. I think your mind becomes clearer when you’re this close to the end. It’s easier to talk about it.

In my last days here I thought about the life I had. I had a brief life, but a very happy one. I was your father and the husband of your mother. What else could I ask for? It gave me peace of mind. Now you do the same.

My advice for you: You don’t have to be afraid.

PS: I miss you.

familyMysteryYoung Adult

About the Creator

💸 Build Your Future 💸

I have experience in SEO, social media marketing, and content creation. I'm a jack of all trades when it comes to content creation, which makes me an asset to any company.

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  • Valentina Savageabout a year ago

    Very well written! Wow. I invite you to read my stories :)

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