Dear Andy

From where it began, Freshman Year, 2010
Dear Andy,
I wanted to take a moment to write you a quick note and tell you happy birthday, but then I stopped to think about the last 18 years, and well, you guessed it, so much for a quick note. The last year has been  incredibly special for me, and one that I'm not sure you will fully understand until you're much older. I hope you hold on to this letter, and when the day comes you can read it again, and finally understand how valuable you are to the lives of others.

I'll start by giving you some advice for when your son becomes a senior, and he starts to think about college and his path for the future. The first thing I can tell you, don’t let him decide too quickly. Encourage him to apply to lots and lots of schools, because if he does, then you can go with him to visit em all, and that my son, is where the joy begins. Over the last year, you and I have had the good fortune to log a few hundred miles in an old Honda, setting out in search of the perfect school. You had a plan worked out that would make sure you spoke to all the right coaches, looked at all the right buildings, got all the right paperwork and found your fit. OK, maybe that was my plan, but either way, we hit the road looking. What I didn’t know before we began our trip, was how amazing it was going to be to spend all those hours on the road with you. We made sure to spend the night at Mamaws every time we were close enough, we ate too much at every Cracker Barrel we passed, and every time we started up the car we prayed that the radio would work. You introduced me to some music from my own generation, and shared a little from yours that wasn’t too bad. I learned that staying at Mamaws meant we got to enjoy her Chicken n Dumplings, and I learned that every time the radio goes out there's an opportunity to just talk. I guess as adults we just hope that when radio stops and the TV is turned off and it’s just you and your child, face to face, that we have something to talk about. As it turns out, we did.  You shared with me that you have dreams, that you worry about making the right decision, and, that you're ok. I guess that's the one thing that I really needed to hear, that you were ok and that your life was good. I expected to learn about colleges and college football, but instead, I learned about you.

Football was supposed to be about playing a sport but it turned out to be so much more. Over the past year it brought about smiles, high fives and chest bumps on the sideline, but it also brought a tearful embrace on the night it ended. When that night came I wasn't sure how I would ever be able to help you, I guess as a father I just wanted to make it all go away. How do you tell someone that it’s all gonna work out ok after they've invested so much time, sweat, blood, injuries and tears, just to watch it all come to an end before having achieved their goal. Thankfully time helps all of that, and I now know that a tearful embrace is exactly how you help each other. It is a reminder to me that you understand and appreciate an investment. You invested yourself in something so great that it ripped your heart out when it fell short. Everyone should be so lucky to be that invested in something, to be that passionate. It is that passion that I am most proud of you for. When you head off to Bridgewater College this fall, I am confident that you will once again invest yourself as part of a team. I will miss the practices, watching you in the weight room, and most of all, the high fives on the sideline after another SG touchdown. I will have to learn to watch from the stands now, but know that I will always be there. I love you son, and I hope that someday you, just like me, will be fortunate enough to find joy in the heart of a child.

My how things have changed. Senior Year, 2013


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