|Cooper runs after Steve, who is holding Katie, on the coast in Gloucester, Mass., in May 2006.|
Dear Cooper & Katie,
Today is Father's Day. I've learned, after trial and error, to not make a big deal out of today.
Last year may have been the hardest. We attended worship services at our church, and the message focused on Father's Day -- as it should. Katie, you sobbed through part of it, and Cooper worried about you, and I felt awful at the end of what should be a restorative hour.
Today we didn't go to worship services. We each went to Sunday school -- Cooper to his Confirmation room, Katie to her class and me to the Youth room, where I teach teens. Papa and Grandma will come over for dinner tonight, and we'll have good time without much hoopla.
Of course, I wish your Daddy were here so that you could spoil him and love on him and tell him how much he means to you. And he would do the same.
I know -- really, truly know -- that he is so proud of you. He is tickled that you both love music and play instruments. He is thankful that you love to read. He is proud of how well you get along (not 100 percent of the time but overall remarkably well). He loves how kind and compassionate and caring you both are.
One of the great things about your Daddy is how much he loved children.
In the last nine years of his life, he worked for Children's Medical Center, helping to make sure that children who live in poverty receive quality health care. Cooper, he loved to volunteer at Bledsoe, in your classroom, for parties and special dad days. If WatchDOGS had been around when he was alive, he would have been the first to sign up.
He absolutely doted on your cousins, Brooke and Molli. He loved being godfather to Sydney. He loved our friends' children, including but not limited to Thalia, Carys, Adam, Drew, Ty, Gavin, Reese, Tyler, Conor, Baylen, Connor, Noe, Amy, Will, the whole Dolphins team ...
As much as he loved all those kids, he was over-the-top in love with you two.
He cried at 7:07 p.m. July 3, when you were born, Cooper. And again at 12:34 p.m. on June 20, when you were born, Katie.
He marveled at your development. He would race me to the bathroom, so he could be the first one there for bath time. He loved reading aloud to you, whether it was Dinosaur's Binkit or Harry Potter. He told Cooper and Katie stories at work all the time.
It's really not fair that you are missing out on all these years without your amazing Daddy. At the same time, you both were over-the-top fortunate to have him as long as you did. (That's what I tell myself when I'm really missing him -- it doesn't always make me feel better, but it's certainly the truth.)
I don't know when or if Father's Day will ever be easier. I do know that if you're sad or lonely on this day, or if you feel like crying off and on, that's totally normal and expected and OK.
I love you, Cooper, and I love you, Katie, and your Daddy loves, you, too.