Early in 2008, I wrote a letter to my unborn child. I had grand schemes… I searched for the best archival, acid-free paper I could find. I looked for the best pen with the best ink that would last. I made a mental list of the people I know who might have a laminator, so I could encase the envelope in plastic and wait 20 years for it to be read.

I thought it would blow this young person’s mind to read a letter from his/her super lame dad. The dork they’ve been hating and torturing for years because of his stupid theories and terrible jokes. And then he/she would get this letter, and read it, and feel like they knew me a bit better. That dad used to be a pretty cool guy, full of funny things mixed with meaningful insights into the human experience. And then my child would respect me a little bit, for just a moment, in 2028.

That’s when I really fell in love with this miraculous mystery person… this little being that would become a full-blown person, hopefully better than me in ways that would surprise and dismay me. I was in love with this little/big person, and I was ready to become a father.

Then she died, and then she was born, and this letter was still sitting in my sock drawer. It was proof: that I was ready, that she was wanted. That I didn’t deserve this loss, that she should have lived. I wanted to wave it in people’s faces… “look, look, this was for 2028. I had it all loosely planned out! I did my homework at being a good dad! I’m thoughtful, I’m caring, I’m sentimental! I don’t deserve this, I’m one of the good ones.”

So along with a photo of her parents from their wedding, and a few blankets, we sent our daughter off to be burned with this letter. God, I wish I could read it one more time. To read it through her eyes (like I tried to do when I finished it, before sealing it in an envelope) and imagine her still there, in 2028, college educating, terrorizing or being terrorized by boys (or girls), sweet or salty, brilliant or normal, beautiful or plain. Every possibility of her being I would love… and still do… as she lives, imagined, in the future. A little girl who called me dad, who thought I was lame, who read a letter from me that I wrote to her before she was. God, I wish I could read it again through her imagined, living, eyes.

Now we’re a few months away from another little person. I have a hard time thinking I could write anything to this next child. Do I want him or her to ever know how I feel right now? Is there any nobility left in such communication? Is there room in the 2029 in my head for this little person?

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