November 16, 2011

The Letter Everyone Should Write to Their Loved Ones

Too many things are often left unsaid, like "I love you" or "I appreciate you" or "I admit it, Toy Story 3 made me cry." In the wake of losing my Dad and my sister-in-law, I've been left completely shaken, worried that something could happen to me (like a tragic softball accident where I hit a game-winning grand slam and, upon crossing home plate, I spontaneously combust) and my daughters will be robbed of the opportunity to get to know their big-headed dad.

So I've decided to jot down some important notes that way if, God forbid, something awful happens to me in the near future, my girls will get at least some sense of who I am, who I strive to be and what I value in life. It's an exercise that I now believe everyone should do—whether the letter is to your kids, a spouse, siblings, a childhood friend, Zach Braff or the person who invented tag-free undershirts (seriously, that person is a genius). It may be the hardest thing you do, but—and trust me on this—one day someone else will be forever thankful that you did.

Here it goes:

Dear Ella, Anna and Mia,

If I die tomorrow, I want you to know …

I wanted to name all of you Bacon.

I don't want you to marry anyone named Larry.

I liked hooded sweatshirts before Mark Zuckerberg liked hooded sweatshirts. (The holey, green Adidas one I've worn since high school that your mom has been dying to throw away since we met is proof of that.)

I don't care what you do with my body so long as you don't eat me.

I always wanted to be a superhero, one that could save people when they were in trouble. I also wanted to invent a superhero outfit that didn't involve tights because I hate how tights feel. I hope both qualities are genetic and are in your genes too.

I checked the closets every night for monsters to ensure you were safe.

I ate a healthy diet that mainly consisted of the four major food groups: fruits, vegetables, meats and Nacho Cheese Doritos.

I had two guaranteed highlights of every day: Waking up in the morning to your smiling faces and singing you to sleep each night with beautiful renditions of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and the theme to "Charles in Charge."

I wore the number 5 in little league not because it was the number of legendary Reds catcher Johnny Bench, but because I was the tiniest guy on our team and had to take the tiniest jersey available. Even though I was small, I always played with a big heart.

I played guitar, though I did not play a single song that impressed your mom. (I mean, come on, who doesn't like Jewel?) Must have won her over with my killer good looks.

I made it through life with the help of a lot of amazing friends. I hope you're as lucky in this department as I am. 

I was passionate about a lot of things—writing, Boggle, discrediting e-mail forwards, seeing how many days in a row I can wear the same pair of pants before someone noticed—and it was my passion that drove me to be better at everything I did. That passion included striving to be the best father in the world.

The designated hitter is stupid. Has little relevance here, but it's still an important fact you should know.

I was once on a Bar Game Olympics championship team called "The Tony Danzas." This is true. I have the number 5 jersey to prove it.

I always wanted to build a well-lit library room in the house, filled wall-to-wall with books and house one large, comfortable couch. That way I could read "The Lorax" to you when you were young and "When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent's Survival Guide" to myself when you were all grown up.

I always chose comfort over fashion, much to the chagrin of your mom (though I would bend on this for only the specialist of occasions).

I don't believe in opening gifts on Christmas Eve until you have finished singing at least an hour's worth of carols.

I went out of my way to recycle so your grandkids wouldn't have to live on big piles of garbage. (You're welcome.) Pay it forward.

I snuggled with you at naptime, not because I had to but because I wanted to.

I performed magic because it always impressed you guys. It was also a sneaky way to get you to "disappear" into the bathroom and go potty before bed.

I rarely bragged about my accomplishments, but I regularly bragged to everyone about how lucky I was to have such smart, kind, caring, funny, beautiful daughters. While I'd like to take credit, those are the same characteristics that caused me to fall deeply in love with your mom.

I loved going to the zoo, watching the giraffes stick out their long tongues and complaining about how bad the elephant house stunk.

I wanted nothing but the best for you girls, even if it meant I had to sacrifice everything (including my bobblehead collection).

And most important, I loved all of you with every molecule of my heart. I woke up every day believing in you, knowing that you'd grow up to be amazing. Whether I get to see it or not, know that I'll always be with you, in your heart, in your soul, watching out for you, protecting you from the monsters in the closet, and bragging to every spirit in heaven about how lucky I was to be a part of your life.

Trust me: Wherever I am, I'm thinking of you and smiling,
Your Dad

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 


s fleming said...

Love it, Love it, Love it!

Tina Harris said...

Very good stuff, Brian.

So sorry for your losses. But you are a better person for having them in your lives and for living through it all!

Here's to you meeting your daughter's grandchildren. :)

jennifer said...

man...mia is totally a klems...eyes closed in a picture ; )

Erika said...

That's frickin' awesome. Brings a tear to my eye.

patty craft said...

I'm pretty sure the brilliant mind behind the tag-free T-shirt was a woman's ;-). Love this letter. I did something similar for my daughter when she graduated from high school. A collection of essays telling her who I was, in case I was gone before she got around to caring again (you know teenagers!) Peace and love to you and yours, Patty

:Donna said...

Brian, as always, you've made me laugh---and in THIS case---get choked up.

I had read your post when you originally put it up in September and thought "how great is that!" I wasn't aware she was ill, and certainly not that she passed. So sorry about both your losses. At least you know they'll always be close in heart...

Bobbi said...

You're a good dad. Those girls are so lucky to have you.

Lisa and Josh said...

Brian, I went to high school with Brittany and found your blog through Melanie. I have been following for quite a while now, and love reading are hilarious! I am so sorry to hear about your painful losses, and please tell Brittany that Lisa (Mertz) Kinsel is praying for her, and your entire family! Your family is beautiful, and thank you for sharing about your life as a dad!

Anonymous said...

you made me cry again. Loved it and it's great advice..

shannanb said...

You made me tear up! I can remember reading this blog back when your wife was pregnant with your oldest.

Tom Bentley said...

Brian good and touching stuff. And I completely agree about the designated hitter.

have a good Thanksgiving.

Pat said...

What a great idea! Sorry for your losses, but I love your outlook. You are lucky to have those girls and they are lucky to have you. Enjoy

Liza said...

Stunning. Print out two copies on nice paper. Frame them and put them on their walls.

vepiro said...

Great, now I can't see 'cuz I have tears in my eyes ;*)

Woz said...

This is so freaking awesome. Having been mommy-less since I was 5, I wish I had even one line like this from her. Brilliant.

Suzanne said...

That was beautiful, Brian. I will sit down right now and write letters to my nephew & nieces. And I will be including my deeply held belief that the designated hitter is for losers.

Anonymous said...

Was led here by your resolutions, but this is super special the most beautiful gift and extra super funny.

Kirby the Clown said...

Sorry for your loss'. Great inspirational story. Gives you lots to think about and makes you realize how much you really do take for granted. Thanks for sharing.

Elle J said...

I look at this photo and I think, "Poor guy-three girls-boy is he in for it." I can honestly say I feel his pain. I have the reverse problem (but actually the same) because I am a mom with two boys. There is so much testosterone in my house - even my dog is a boy!

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Stephahh said...

This is the best!!! Well said and funny, I am writing my letter as an assignment and this made it a whole lot easier for me as I am a funny girl- and I am very emotional when it comes to death- this will make me take it from a different approach! Thank you brian!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Thought. Life is unpredictable and the people left behind should know that they were and are loved.

♡Molly♡ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
♡Molly♡ said...

I just came across your blog today. You have such an awesome sense of it :) This here post brought tears to my eyes. Your daughter's are so lucky to have you as their father!! My husband & I couldn't have kids. So things like this just make me melt. Great job Dad!

Anonymous said...

Check out ToLovedOnes. They deliver letters to your loved ones after you have passed away.

مروة سعد said...

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مراكز صيانة غسالات بمكة
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مروة سعد said...

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