SI,

You came up to the firehouse so we could celebrate your 5th birthday together. As a family. I wish we had taken pictures. I regret that…because I so dearly want to look back on today some day and see a smile on your face at some point during your visit.

I’m sorry that halfway through your birthday dinner I had to leave for a house fire up the street. I didn’t want to go any more than you wanted me to leave. But I’m glad you stayed and waited for me to get back.

I enjoyed watching you open your presents. The smile on your face always brings one to mine. And that laugh…I simply love and adore your laughter, buddy. I enjoyed singing happy birthday to you and eating ice cream cake with you. I’m sorry that halfway through building your new Lego plane I had to leave again, this time for a car accident. I’ve been looking forward to building that together with you since your mom and I bought it last week. I like hanging out with you…doing stuff together. Leaving in the middle of that time together hurt me.

But I’m glad you stayed and waited for me. It was comforting to feel you hug my leg as soon as I jumped out of the fire truck, even over my bulky turnout pants. That feeling was…indescribable. And one I will cherish forever. You didn’t see it, but I cried a little then. And I’m crying now as I type this. Because you deserve better.

I’m so sorry that this job I once loved with every fiber of my being has cost so much. I’m sorry it has left you waiting for me to be present in your life. I’m sorry that I’ve had to put strangers above you on days like today. Your birthday means so stinking much to me, and I love you so, so very much son. So much so that tears are uncontrollably running down my face as I type this…I’m sobbing like a baby, and I’m powerless to stop it. You cannot begin to imagine the depth of my love for you, your siblings and your mother. I pray that you can forgive me for days like today and not hold them against me. And that one day you will also feel the same kind of love, with children of your own. When you do, I pray you’ve chosen a career that doesn’t find you missing the important days in their lives…days like today…leaving you feeling like I do now.

I’m so sorry son. I hope and pray you had an awesome birthday, despite my absence. You certainly deserve it. You deserve better.

Love,

Dad

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