Saturday, February 12, 2011

Farewell Letter

23 February 2009

Dear N---,

Before you leave our family for good, I want to let you know that, for all the good and bad times between us, you were a very important part of our family while you were here.

We both know why it had to end, but we'll remember it in our own ways. Maybe you'll never feel like your home was here; maybe you'll never really know what we were trying to do, or the kind of parents we wanted to be. Maybe you'll try to forget us, and maybe later you'll say you hate us for sending you home early. I can't change any of that.

Regardless of how you might feel about Mom and me, never ever forget the kids. They will never forget you, and you will always be their brother, no matter how old you all get or how far away you may be. They were not part of the problems we had, so if you have any bad feelings at all, don't blame them. They love you. Please love them back.

So now as you head back home, you'll have lots of time to think about what happened, and why things happened the way they did. I'm all done lecturing you on rules and telling the truth--don't worry. Nothing can change what's already happened.

But now you have a future to think of.

During your six months with our family, I think I've seen many parts of who you are. I've seen your soft, boyish side who likes cartoons and comic books. I've seen the way you get along with kids, and play with the dogs. I've seen how smart you are, when you really want to understand something. And I've seen what you are willing to sacrifice to get what you want.

Not all of these pieces make the whole person you are, but they are all parts of you. Not all of these pieces fit together well, either.

Soon you will be a man. I don't know what your culture teaches about manhood, but I'll tell you what I believe. Being a man means owning all the pieces of who you are. It means even if you don't understand a part of yourself, you don't pretend it isn't there, and you take responsibility for the things it makes you do, whether they're good or bad. It also means growing--seeing when something is bad, and learning what to do about it.

Every person has to go through this, man and woman. But it's especially important for a man. So many forces will tear you apart as you become an adult--sex, friends, career, family--and you will not be allowed to fail. Pay attention to how the world sees men--those who succeed, and those who don't. Don't think you will succeed all the time, because you won't. Don't fear failure--it will come whether you like it or not. How you deal with it will make the difference. Will you let your failures beat you? Will you stop trying to be better?

You should know that ignoring a failure or problem--pretending it doesn't exist--does not make it go away.

There is also a time in every man's life when he must realize that he is alone in the world, and no one else can be held responsible for his actions. You are near this time. Yes--you will always have people around you who will love you, and help you--but the longer you rely on them to make problems go away, or fix what went wrong, the longer it will take before you are truly a man.

I believe in you, N---. I know that you can succeed in life, if you really want to. I know you have what it takes to survive when others would fall. But you must know fully who you are, and accept every part of yourself, before that can happen.

I wish you all the best in life. Though today might not be the best day, it will end and better days will come. You will be in school very soon, doing things that will start a whole new life. You will be with friends again. And best of all you will be home, home with your family who loves you more than anything.

We will miss you, N---, all of us. Make the best of the lessons life gives you, keep rolling no matter what. Because I know that once you find the right direction, you will be unstoppable.



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