To Gia (my baby girl, my daughter and my princess),
I want you to know that I have been struggling with a lot of things here lately that have a lot to do with you but are by no means your fault nor have you done anything wrong, nor do you need to feel guilty or responsible for any of the things I’m telling or feeling. It is important for you to understand that you are not in any way shape or form responible for my happiness or well being nor should you make ANY significant life choice based upon how it will affect me or your mother unless it is something that is clearly stupid or hurtful to us or yourself. So if you see me upset or crying please don’t ever worry or wonder if you did something or if there is a problem with your mom and I.
I have come to some realizations with everything that has happened this past year with you, with boys, life changes and the stuff I found on your phone. I see now that you are not a little girl anymore and that my time with you is running out very quickly. It really caught me off guard and I’m really struggling with it because I always thought I had so much time left with you. Now that I realize you will be out of the house in 5 years and how little time that is there are so many things I want to talk to you about and tell you about to get you ready for the world and life without us to prepare you for what is to come. I’m trying to pace myself on these discussions because I want us to enjoy the time we have left and I don’t want you feel like there is always some heavy, serious or sad discussion that I’m always about to have with you. I know what a downer that can be and I’m sorry these things are uncomfortable but you know they are necessary and I am only doing this because I love you so much.
I didn’t really come in to your life until you were 4 and your mother and I got married when you were 5 years old. It wasn’t until you were about 6 or 7 that we really loved each other and took on a father daughter bond. So I have really only been a true dad and parent to you for about 7 years or so and divide that in half because of split custody and it’s more like 3.5 or 4 years that I have actually had to spend with you as a father and much of that time has been spent trying to fill in the holes left by Pete. It has hit me like a ton of bricks now that you are not a child technically that I have missed a lot of your childhood. This has left me feeling devastated for many reasons but mainly because its just not enough time with the only child I will ever have that I love more than anything on God’s green earth . I didn’t ever even really know for sure that you really really loved me and saw me as your real dad until you wrote me that card on Father’s day when you were 11 or 12 that you drew THOR on (I wish so much I was still your super hero) From the age of 11 till just before you were 13 as I really got to know you better as a person while you matured mentally and emotionally I fell head over heels in love with you as a daughter. I never thought I could love and care for a human being as much as I did then and I still do now. We have so much and in common because of things we have been through our lives. I feel like my love for you grows every day still. By the time I really understood this, this past year I realized you were drifting away and I had to find away to give you some space and start letting you go a little so you can eventually be your own person capable of making it on your own decisions without being dependant on me, your mother or anyone else for that matter. I have been inconsolable on many days since this all happened because I felt like I was losing you physically and emotionally. I could not understand why it was hurting so bad just to think of things being any different than they are now. Even you being distant from us while still here in the house gives me a knot in my stomach at times so the thought of you physically not being here for days and weeks on end was paralyzing to me. At first I thought maybe I was just leaning on you too much for emotional connection because of some kind of distance I was feeling from Mom but I started to think about your childhood and how much I missed when you were a baby and when you were at Pete’s on his days even after I came around. I have been feeling unfullfilled as a parent and a father because I missed so many precious moments with you. Gia I would have given anything and I mean ANYTHING to hold you as a baby, look you in the eyes and know you were mine and only mine! That I was your everything and your whole world as a father. Your only super hero dad. I never got to change your diaper, feed you a bottle, help you walk or hear your first words. I will never get to share that with you or any other child and regret that so much. I thought maybe if your mother and I had a child together that maybe I would not feel this way but I realize that I would have only wanted that with you. I hate that I have had to and still have to share you with Pete. I know he was your first dad and that he will always have a part of your heart but it has always made me jealous and hurt knowing I will never have ALL of you which is not your fault. It’s so hard for me to accept that and I’m so sorry I was not able to be your 1 and only Dad from the start. I feel we both would be even closer and happier than we are now if that would have happened. I dream about that everyday now and it always makes me cry. Those were the cards we were dealt for some reason and I guess it was supposed to be this way. Regardless how much of your heart I have I want you to know that you are the only little girl that occupies my heart. You have and always will have all of me. I also want you to understand that I chose you and your mother Gia. I didn’t end up with you by default because you popped out of your mother. I chose to take you on as my daughter. Pete has an obligation to be your father, to love you and do certain things for you. He does not have much of a choice in that even though he does not do the best job at it. Gia I don’t need you in my life, I don’t have to be good to you, I don’t have to love you and I don’t have to care about you. I JUST WANT TO and I chose to. I was not forced to, obligated to nor was I expecting anything in return other than reciprocated love and affection from you. I am the only parent that specifically chose you to be mine and it’s important you know how powerful that is. I would not trade my time with you for anything!! I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have no real regrets about our life together other than the parts I had no control over.
I never considered having kids of my own because I was so content with you, I worried it would create resentment in you and I was so afraid I would not be able to handle the responsibility or that I would do to you or others the same thing my parents did to me(abandon, neglect and/or abuse) I never knew I would love being a father or at least YOUR father so much or that I would even be a good father. So far it has been the privelige of my life to call you my daughter and I have never been prouder to claim anything or anyone as my own despite ANY mistakes you have ever made or will ever make.
It’s been a sobering fact to realize than no one in my life has ever cared for me the way I care for you until you and your mom came along. My parents simply did not feel this way about me. I know that because they would not have done the things they did had the felt the way about me as I do about you. People make mistakes but a lifetime of neglect shows how they felt about me. This is why I have struggled with self worth and feeling like I don’t matter my whole life. I can’t have that with you. I will not allow you to ever live your life feeling like you are a piece of crap, a nothing or like you do not matter. I want you to know how loved and missed you are even now and also when you leave our home some day. I miss you every single day when you go to Pete’s and I will miss you every single day when you leave the house to go have your life. It’s just something happens when kids grow up I guess. I don’t want you to be sad about this FACT I want you to be happy knowing that even though your first dad was not able to be what you wanted and needed that THIS dad will always do his best to make you feel wanted and loved. You will always be my priority. That being said I am human and a broken human at that and I make mistake, little one and big ones. I am sure I will screw up between now and the rest of our life together and may at times do and say things that seem to contradict what I am saying here but it only because I am not perfect and just as flawed as anyone else but I will do my best and I will admit when I’m wrong or when I have screwed up then I do whatever it takes to fix it with you so we can move forward on good terms. I promise that to you and I hope you can remember all of this even if I’m not living up to my word and give me time to fix things if I do screw this up someday.
You told me your greatest fear was being vulnerable. Did you know that in studies showing vulnerability is quickest way to make someone like you and viewed as a sign of strength? It is our flaws, imperfections, insecurities and willingness to share those with others that bring us closer to the people we love. It’s true that it will backfire from time to time and people will take advantage of it which will hurt immensely and affect your ability to trust others but 9 times out of 10 it will go well. You just have to trust the right people to vulnerable with and we will talk about that more another time.
You have also expressed that you wish to change the world, have a close loving family and wish to be remembered. I assure you Gia if you stay true to your heart and continue to be the person I love so much that you will have these things. I will never forget you and no one who gets to know you will ever forget you either. I’m not just saying this because I’m your dad but you are one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. I know you are not perfect but you are smart, kind, beautiful and compassionate. I would not change anything about you other than the wounds that still hurt you to this day.
I have told you before but I will continue to reiterate until you really get it. You can tell me anything Gia!! Any problem you have even if you did something I told you not to do and I’m disappointed in you I’m still going to be kind to you and help you find a solution to your problem or just listen to you so you can get it off your chest and just feel better. A lot of girls/women do not tell there dad things going on with them, things they have done or problems they are dealing with because they are afraid of ruining their image of “daddy’s little angel” or “daddy’s princess” with their father or that he will think less of them, disown them or be infuriated. Gia I am telling you that I will never think less of you as a person. I know you are not perfect and I know you are going to screw up and do things at times that you are ashamed of and regret. WE ALL HAVE. I know what stuff I did and thought about from your age and on and you will not surprise me whatever it is that you get in to. I think you will make good decisions but if you ever get pregnant, addicted drugs, deal drugs, get raped, get an STD, steal, cheat, shank a biotch, kill someone, strip or even hook I AM STILL GOING TO LOVE YOU. I am also still going to help you anyway I can. I have scooped you off the floor before when things have happened and I will do it 1000 more times if I have to. I don’t think you will ever do most of those things but I really need you to understand that you will always be my daughter and I will always be there for you no matter what even when I know you are wrong at times. If I ever thought you were sitting in the dark somewhere going through something that you couldn’t handle all by yourself and you did not feel like you had anyone to help you it would BREAK my heart worse than any of those things listed above. Almost every horrible thing I went through in my life I dealt with on my own before your mom came along and it was a miserable lonely existence. Please don’t ever allow yourself to live like that EVER. I’m going to ask you to promise me that. If the walls are caving in around you, and they will before it’s all said and done, you have to call me or tell me or your mother.
I would only ask that before you ever make a decision about things you do with yourself, with boys, with other people or with alcohol/substances that you would ask yourself before hand, “what would my Dad think about this, what would my future kids think about this and would I be embarrassed or ashamed to tell someone I loved about this?? And if for some reason you make the wrong decision anyway that you have the courage to talk to me about it or get help if there is a problem associated with it.
I still have a lot to talk to you about on this stuff and I’m sorry this is so long but I had to let you know how I feel about you. I may not ever get to have another conversation about these things with you again because you just never know what will happen. people come in to this world and leave this world everyday and if you were going to know one thing about anything before I die it would be what is written on this paper. I want you to keep this paper and read it any time you feel bad or lonely or depressed and if I’m still around I hope you will call me or find me and let me pour my love and my strength in to you. If I’m already gone I hope you would remember me and call someone else you love to get help. Good night baby girl. Everyday is a new day and no matter how good or bad this day is the next day can always be better. Don’t ever forget these things.
NOTE: I found this letter to her in his emails after he ended his life. He had written and sent it from his work email to his personal email on Tuesday afternoon but for some reason never gave it to her.