Jesse's Letter to Aiden shortly after his death

Dear Aiden,

You taught me so much in the six short years you were with us.  You taught me vulnerability and grace.  You taught me fear and unbreakable love.  You taught me sacrifice and forgiveness.   You showed me how much higher the highs are when the lows are so low.  You created a community around me.  You taught me that each day is a gift, better than the day before.   And you taught me the importance of tie shoes. 

It feels like you left too soon, but I think you stayed as long as you could. 

My pain and sorrow come from wanting to share and teach you so much more. I also want to learn so much more from you. You have taught your sister well and she has and will continue to teach me.

As your father I wanted to go ahead of you and clear the path, to make it safe.  But from before you were born, you had selected a different path.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to walk along that path with you, at times running ahead to clear the path and at times running to catch up as you took a different course.

We don't have a soul.  We are a soul. We have a body.  Your soul was too big to keep confined to the body you chose. 

As I look back at the fragility of your body, I am in awe of your spirit. Your unbreakable spirit brought joy to my heart.  I loved holding your hand and cuddling you tight.  I cry tears of sorrow and tears of joy, tears of relief and tears of fear.  I will always cherish you, in my mind, my heart, and my soul. 

While you went through several surgeries and transformations of your heart, I too was going under a transformation of my heart.  But you were the surgeon repairing my flaws.  Just like your heart, my heart could not be made perfect, bit it could be improved upon again and again.

You always hated band aids. You were a coban man.  It was the ripping that hurt the most.  I now understand the ripping.  We were given the news that you may not survive the transplant surgery. That was the worst ripping pain that I have ever felt.  Three days later, we said goodbye, and gave our final kisses.  The rest of you was ripped away from me.

Underneath I am left with a scar, a reminder of you; a reminder that while scars hurt when you get them, they represent an important part of the past.  A reminder of fear and a reminder of bravery.  A reminder of the hard times as well as the good.  Do not hide your scars or be afraid to get them, embrace the pain, and the healing that follows.

They say that a good way to know if you are a leader is to turn around.  Are people following?  If you were to turn around, I would be standing there, right behind you.  And as I look around, and see the number of people following you, I would say that you were a true leader. You have taught and led so many people in such a short life.

My dear Aiden,

I love you

I love you

I love you