A thank you letter to my fallen brothers

Dear Chris and Stan,

First, let me start by saying that I miss you both tremendously.  It’s been over a half decade since God called you both home and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss having you both at my side.  But today I have good news to share with you!  I am so thrilled to share that my beautiful daughter, Isabella Rose, was born on over a month ago on March 31st!  She is happy, healthy and full of joy.  The last month has been one of the greatest times of my life so far.  Chris, just like you she has a smile that lights up the room.  And Stan, she’s definitely got your energy and fire.  But I must admit, I often find myself in disbelief when I look at her…

It’s hard to really grasp the concept of officially being a father.  Kelsey Rose and I have been together for nearly ten years now but I must admit, I’ve come a long way.  Years ago, I dreamed of being a father but was nowhere near ready to bring a child into this world.  I was selfish, irresponsible and unreliable but the two of you helped me turn all of that around.

I can honestly say that I’ve wanted to be a father more than anything else in this world and I just can’t believe that this time is finally here.  That’s why I am writing you both this thank you letter.  As I reflect back on our time together, I remember countless times when you both stepped up to lead in the right direction towards becoming the man I am today.  Without you, I would’ve never changed my ways. I would still be stuck in my own selfish lifestyle and there’s no way God would have given me another chance to bring Kelsey Rose back into my life.  In saying that, as much as I miss you both, I’ve made it my life’s mission to live my life in a way that would continue to make you both proud.  Now, that focus has expanded even further as I live my life to be the type of father for sweet Isabella that would make you both glow with pride.

The reality is, Isabella Rose wouldn’t be here had I not met both of you.  Chris, meeting you in basic training changed my life forever.  You taught me what it means to be reliable, to put others before yourself, and that it’s never too late to make changes in life.  You taught me to value loyalty and friendship above all else and to be the type of man that this world so desperately needs.

Then I met you Stan, on the first day I arrived in Germany and you immediately pulled me out of my comfort zone.  You helped me find my way and you encouraged me to push myself to truly realize my true potential.  You challenged me to be better than I ever imagined I could be and you called me out when I made excuses.  You taught me how to hold myself and others accountable and you taught me that leadership is not about telling others what to do but rather showing them how to be better.

Not a single day goes by that I don’t miss you both.  On my wedding day, those folded flags sat right next to me at my head table and I see them every day when I walk downstairs in the morning.

I have no doubt that you both are looking down on me from Heaven with your guiding hands on my shoulder.  I promise I will continue to live my life for others.  I will take advantage of the opportunities God has provided me and I will be the world’s best father for Isabella Rose.

Rest in peace my fallen heroes,

Until Valhalla

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