“I know you.
I’ve known you since sitting in the IVF clinic, praying. It was two days after the Boston bombings. There in Lexington, Mass., knowing parents had just lost their children as we were trying to have ours. I’ve got a photo of you at eight cells. I knew you for 10 months in the womb. For 121 days on this earth, I’ve known everything about you.
You don’t know me.
You don’t know me walking home from school. You don’t know me looking into a closet with just one tie. By the time you start to remember me, you’ll be remembering the 32-inch waist or the 34, not the 29. You’ll never know my arms without tattoos. Or my face without glasses. You’ll never know me without scars.
I can account for every day you’ve been alive. I know whether you’ve laughed (no) or rolled over (yes). I can look at that onesie and confirm it was the first thing I ever bought for you as a poppa. I can tell when you’re going to sneeze.
You don’t know me without your mom. I hardly know me without your mom. You don’t know me when I was lonely. Hurting. You don’t know me picking myself up off the floor after those nights drinking. You don’t know me carrying that coffin that held my best friend.
I know that I choked up when I saw you leave your momma. I know your cry and I’ve known it since the first breath your little lungs ever took. I know how much money we paid to bring you home. I know the exact time you will go to bed.
You don’t know me before coffee, before bourbon, before Old Try. You don’t know my VW bus. You don’t know my Redemption story.
There will be a day. A day when something you do slips past me. The first of the unknowns. A glass you break. A test you fail. A sip you sneak.
There will be a day. A day when someone tells you something about your old man you’ve never known. You will hear stories and begin to know who I am, what I did, where I grew. Over the years I will come into focus.
There will be a day. I will forget. My unknowing will get worse and your time spent with me will be harder. My eyes will start to dim. Yours will start to shine brighter than they even do now.
These days of knowing, they are mine now. They will be yours later. I’m going to squeeze everything I can out of my share, Little Bug.
This I know.”
An essay I wrote for my daughter a year ago on my first Father’a Day. And I couldn’t be more proud to be her daddy.