My Eternal Beloved,

Christmas is once again upon us. And this year like no other.

Four years and 8 weeks ago, you were taken. The light of your existence was extinguished. And yet, I pray each day that you are soaring higher and farther beyond all human comprehension. I pray that you are seeing, and living, incredible experiences that we, on this earthly plain cannot possible fathom. That you are surrounded by peace, by love.

This year is so very different than past years. In the past 14 months, you have been joined by my dad, your “Paps.” In the past two months, my mom, your “Mams” has joined you. (I hope you are being nice to her and not pulling the practical jokes you loved so much!) And in the past 6 weeks, my loving brother, your “Uncle Chuckles” is with you. (Now with him, pull all the practical jokes you want!). But, in our world today, a world so caught up in fear, and anger, and bitterness, the sting of missing you is greater than ever before.

At the same time, an incredible bundle of joy, a new life arrived at just about the same time your Uncle Chuckles left. Your niece, my granddaughter, Riley Emilia came to us. In fact, I held her for the very first time about one hour after I was told that my brother’s condition was fatal, that he was in essence already gone. And the tears came, uncontrolled and relentless. A combination of the greatest love and the deepest pain enveloping me at the same time. But also, seeing my son differently, perhaps for the first time. And although already a loving dad to a now, incredible 9 year old Spitfire (who by the way, reminds many of you and the fighting spirit you have), this new life seems to have rejuvenated him soulfully. There is now a calmness within him. And I am seeing an aspect that either I could not, or would not see before.

He remembered how decorating the Christmas tree was something that you and I held dear. How we adorned the tree and then spent hours stringing popcorn and cranberries. So, he brought his loving wife and Riley to my house and helped decorate the tree this year. I rediscovered the difficulty in decorating the tree with one hand while holding a baby against your chest. And the time that we held so dear, the joy of seeing our tree come to life, came to life in a different, sacred way this year. Who knows, perhaps next year we will reprise another tradition we had … driving out to East Texas and finding our tree at a Christmas tree farm.

But now, my son, your brother, has asked, has burdened me with a task so incredibly difficult, that I will need to summons all the willpower, courage, strength and resolve I have.  With Kennedy, my other granddaughter now being 9 years old, my son believes it is time she got to know you, her Aunt Morgan much better. So he asked me to go through your journals, the very repository of your struggles, your fears, your hopes, your strength, your anger, your love … and find inspirational passages and pages which defined the very best parts of you. To assemble them in a booklet and give it to Kennedy as a Christmas present.

Your journals are a sharp reminder of your struggles, your hopes and in some ways, my belief of my own failures. He was asking me to undertake an onerous burden. I also believed that he did not truly have an idea of how difficult this was going to be, that some wounds were not meant to be reopened. I was wrong about that too.

Two days ago, he called me and we started talking about this task. When I told him how taxing it was on my soul, he replied, “I know it must be. But dad, perhaps you need that.” You see Morgan, sometimes wisdom comes to you from unexpected places in the most unexpected ways. And you simply must leave yourself open to embracing that wisdom. So, as I assemble Kennedy’s book, there are moments of laughter, moments of tears and moments of admiration as I read once again, the incredible strength, the incredible character, the depth of wisdom, and yes, your fears, your hurt, your pain and how you courageously poured out your emotions, thoughts and feelings onto those pages. And I am reminded anew of how and why you inspired so many.

Oh Morgan, what a community in which I have been immersed. The eating disorder realm. There is so much anger, fear, hurt and yes, some hatred. So much dysfunction. Sometimes it seems like some of the leaders have lost sight that this is an incredibly deadly disease, a disease that claimed your life, and are more concerned about their own power, their perceived legacy. And you are constantly being joined every day by others who succumb. But, at the same time, there are also incredible persons of great character, intelligence, wisdom, faith, compassion and humanity. Persons, like you, who inspire others to lift themselves, to challenge the status quo, to embrace the endless possibilities of what could be.

My beloved daughter, physically you are not here with me. But many times I feel your presence and know you are with me. Help me to continue to grow, to become a man, a daddy of whom you would be proud. When I stray from the path, help me find my way back.

Tonight, at 11:31 p.m., I will again light a candle for you. One candle to illuminate a room of darkness. One candle to guide me. One candle to sustain me. One candle to give hope. One candle to give, and receive love.

Merry Christmas my beloved daughter. I love you.

Your Daddy

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