This is a letter written by a son whose father died of addiction.

I wrote this letter.

“I had many emotions about my father’s death. First, disappointment. Disappointed because he was doing so well; it seemed like, for the first time, he was starting to get it all together. Also, sad. Sad that his life had to end the way it did. And sad for myself: That I had to have a father whose life ended the way that it did. But his death was also freeing: Freeing for me because, since I was just a child, I’ve always had to carry the burden of having a drug-addict for a father, and knowing that, any day, I could get a call that his life finally ended. It’s also freeing for him because his suffering in this life was finally over. And, although he struggled with his addiction, his faith was rock-solid, even when challenged by others around him. Now, he is free in Heaven; free from all his pain, suffering, and addiction. And, for the first time in most of my life, I can say that my father is not a drug addict.

Many times I worried: If he started to do well and I decided to set a time and place for him to meet Esther and see me again, that he would relapse sometime in between. Then, the first time Esther would meet my father, he would be stuck again in the midst of his ugly addiction. But I no longer have to worry, because the first time she will meet his is in heaven, where he will be fully free, clean, and handsome.

The year before his death, I had a chance to get to know him a little bit (since I was a child), and his life was seemingly getting back together. I see that year as a gift from God, a small moment to bond with my father before it was his time to go. Before he died, on Easter, we had a chance to talk on the phone for about an hour (he had just finished serving two dinners to homeless and addicts). We mostly just talked about wood and guitars. He was beginning a project to build a guitar. For the first time since I was a child, we actually bonded. Not so much as a father and son, but just two guys talking about something they were both passionate about. And I remember being amazed at all the knowledge he had about wood and craftsmanship. And I was thinking that someone should write it all down because it would have been a shame to lose all of that knowledge, especially when we never knew just how much time he had left.

Growing up, I often wondered: If my father loved us as much as he said he did, how come he’d never reach out to us? In the last while of his life, I began to understand. He was afraid. Not for himself, but for us. He knew the pain he had already caused the family in the past. He was afraid that if he sobered up and entered back into our lives, there was always the chance he would relapse again, and only cause us more pain and suffering. So he was content to just watch us from afar and be proud of how we all turned out to be – and brag about us to all of his friends. Different people from his mission had told me that he was always talking about about his three sons. Now, he can do that same, except he’ll be watching us from heaven, as a free man.

The Christmas before he died he, surprisingly, sent me a gift – the first time in over twenty years. It was a harmonica – the same kind his sister bought him when he was young (and I’m going to keep a copy of this letter with it). There was also a little wooden that said, “Jesus Loves You” with it. The morning after I had heard about his death, I played that harmonica. It had the sound of pain and sorrow, and I could not stop crying (and I’m not the type of guy that cries). But, the next day, I played that harmonica.” again.””And, for some reason, it had the sound of hope.  

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