Dear Zach,

I’m not sure how to start this. Please forgive me if this is clunky.  I have so many thoughts going through my head that I just want to get them down for you. I know there’s nothing I can do or say to you that will take away the hurt from the way I’ve mistreated you.  If I could go back and do it all differently I would… but honestly I think I would probably make the same mistakes because I’m not sure I know how to be a better person. I’m trying…  I am, despite how it looks.

You are probably asking your mom why I haven’t reached out to you yet since my release. Or maybe you’re not. Maybe you don’t want to have anything to do with me. If that’s the case I understand it. It’s my fault and I wish you didn’t have to face the brunt of my damaging decisions.

I know you wanted to come and visit me in prison. I wanted to see you, I really did. I had your picture on my wall and looked at you almost every waking moment. The truth is I didn’t want your last image of me to be that of a condemned man.  You had already seen all that shit in the news and honestly I didn’t know how to face you. Most of the stuff were lies but the thing that mattered most to you was painfully true. I am sorry you had to learn about my infidelity through your friends at school.  I haven’t had the courage to face you since then.  I didn’t want to answer your questions because there was nothing I could say to make the hurt go away. There was nothing I could say to salvage your faith in me as your father.

I failed you in every possible way and that’s on me. It’s a burden that frankly has been crushing me for years and now that I’ve been released I have no idea how to go about repairing the damage I’ve caused you. I never expected to ever see the sky again as a free man. I never expected that I’d regain my freedom. I never expected that I’d be of any use to you anymore. I prepared my mind that you were better off fatherless.  I guess it’s a lie that I told myself as a coping mechanism to not have to live with the guilt. I rid myself of you because I believed you didn’t need me anymore and I hoped that you would just move on. Then the worst thing happened… I was exonerate and released.

Why was it the worst thing? Well the only thing that ran through my mind when they took me to processing to release me was… ‘What’s Zach going to think?’ I avoided you because death was going to be my escape but now… well life is my punishment. I don’t mean that in a negative way towards you but in the sense that I have to own up to my shortcomings now. There’s no way I can run away from them because the excuse of death has been taken away. Now I have life and that means confronting you and seeing first hand the pain that I’ve put you through. It’s tough for me to admit as a man. I’m a coward. I don’t know how else to put it. It goes against everything I’ve ever done. People see what I’m doing and tell me I’m brave. Or I’m a tough guy but when it comes to you, it’s like something traps me and I don’t know how to be a proper father to you.

I’ve always been rock solid on everything but when it comes to being a father… my dad was a colossal fuck up. I vowed never to be like him and I ended up being even worse. For that I’m sorry… I really am. My apologies probably don’t mean shit to you but if I could just rip my heart open for you to see into the darkest compartments of it you will see that  all I seek is your forgiveness.

I recently got on social media.  I’m meeting people, many new friends and some old ones. The rush of being on Facebook was like being on a playground for the first time. I’m having conversations with people I would never have met in my own small bubble. I’ve met some really cool people so far and it has been fascinating getting a peek into other people’s lives, but there are a few unintended consequences…

…Today is Christmas. I tried to avoid logging on Facebook but I made the mistake of taking a peek. I saw people with their families and friends– there was lots of food,  drinks, pictures of loved ones together– lots of laughter– mountains of gifts– families on vacation–  most seem happy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to guilt you or cry out for help. This is not a woe is me letter but seeing all those posts today really magnified my shortcomings as a father.

Do you know what I did for Christmas… nothing. I went hunting earlier in the morning with RJ and Bunny… they don’t believe in all the holiday festivities… I thought I didn’t too but the nostalgia I’ve felt today as been extremely overwhelming.  I had some leftovers, took a nap and did a lot of reading and catching up or legal briefs, etc. I didn’t get a phone call nor did I call anyone I knew. The only people I said Merry Christmas too were people on Facebook… most of them strangers. All have been kind but none of them are family.  I pushed my own family away and now I am dealing with the consequences.

If tell you I love you I feel like that will only make you angry. I have acted in every way but that. One day I will tell you the story about how your mother and I met. She’s a great woman, very smart and extremely resilient. We were friends and should have remained that way after she got pregnant with you. I think if we were mature enough we would have figured out how to co-exists as loving parents for you but instead we decided to get married which was just pouring gasoline on open flames. You probably remember the constant fighting, me staying out late to work and her doing the same. Passing you off to friends to look after for a night while we were out separately trying to destroy ourselves and scarring you in the process. I look back and I am just embarrassed and sad that it took a death sentence for me to realize this.

You probably don’t want me in your life at this point but I just wanted to put this out there. Your mother doesn’t want me contacting you in any way and she has the right to do that. I told her not to bring you around years ago and now well… my selfishness is glaring back at me and I’m just realizing how ugly it is.

Anyway I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and I hope what’s in store for you is more fulfilling than what I’ve given you and that you rise high and thrive in spite of everything that we surrounded you with.



PS. I found this picture and just wanted to share it with you…

I believe this was taken in July of 2004. We took you to your first beach trip in Myrtle Beach. You were scared of the water. We tried to get you to put your toes in but you freaked out. You cried and I picked you up and kissed you to help you calm down, that’s when mom took this picture. You were clingy the rest of the day and didn’t trust the water.