I wrote this piece last year right about this time. I was in a very different place, still very raw and in shock. I still have the same sentiment though. I will never be thankful that Kevin is gone, but I am thankful every day for having been a part of his life, I’m proud of having helped to raise him and I’m grateful for everything he gave to me.
On October 13 we lost Kevin. Thanksgiving is the first major holiday to roll around and I’m dreading it. This was going to be a difficult Thanksgiving anyway, my Mother-in-law, Petey, passed away in March. This was to be our first Thanksgiving without her and we were to celebrate it in her home.
The truth is Losing Petey was sad, losing Kevin is devastating.
So here I find myself a week before the holiday wondering what I have to be thankful for.
I’m not thankful for the open wound in the middle of my chest. I’m not feeling festive while watching everyone I care about and everything that matters to me fall apart over our loss. I’m sure as hell not thankful that I’ll never see Kevin grow-up, or smile, or joke around with me again.
But I am thankful, so incredibly thankful.
I’m thankful for my family without whom I’d be totally lost. I’m thankful for my friends on whom I’ve leaned in this time of trouble. I’m thankful for my amazing wife whom I love more than you could ever imagine, and I’m thankful for my surviving children whom I love with a fierceness that I can’t put into words.
Most of all I’m thankful for having had Kevin in my life for the last nineteen years.
I’m a dad.
It’s what I do, it’s what I like, and it’s what makes me happy. It’s my identity.
Without Kevin, none of that happens.
You see Lisa is a mom. When Kevin came along he became everything. Lisa had a child and changed into the woman I fell in love with. No Kevin, no Lisa and Gary, that’s just a fact. We’ve always known it.
When Lisa and I came together Kevin was more than part of the deal. He was the deciding factor. Had I not been ready, willing and able to put Kevin’s needs first I would have been long gone, as it should be. I never had a problem with that. It felt natural as hell. I wasn’t jealous of Kevin I loved having him around. Having a family WAS what I wanted, even though I didn’t know that going in.
We became a family pretty quick, pretty much right from the beginning. We made it official a few years later when I married both Lisa and Kevin. When Drew was born I needed to make it clear to Kevin he wasn’t a second class member of the family. He was the big brother, Drew was the little brother. Drew wasn’t “mine” and Kevin wasn’t “someone else’s” they were both my boys, and I loved them both equally, but differently, just like it would be in any family.
There was no stress when Katalin came along. Kevin loved her, Drew might have been a little jealous of that, but I’d been through this once before. Kevin had taught me how to handle it.
I always hate the”step” word. Whenever I’ve had to use it I’d feel a tinge of anger. Kev wasn’t “step” anything. He was son, period. Back in September Drew was talking about Kevin whom he had described as his “half-brother”. “He’s your brother” I snapped, “leave the half shit out of it”. We are a family. There was no need for qualifiers.
So there you have it. I’m thankful to my son for giving me everything that matters to me. I’m incredibly grateful for having had him be such a huge part of my life for so long. I owe you a great debt Kevin. I can never repay it.