I know you’ve had a tough week my young friend and I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am for what you have to go through. I know it’s really hard, and it’s really sad, and you have so many questions that may not be able to be answered right now. I know you’ve been asking God why this has happened and that will always be okay. I know you’ve been asking your mom why this has happened and that will certainly always be okay. I know things are hard to understand right now, but believe me buddy, it’s hard for anybody to understand why these things happen and maybe sometimes we’re not really meant to understand. The biggest thing I know though Alex, is how much your daddy loved you and how great of a man your daddy could be.
I first met your dad when I was five or six years old. See, I grew up right down the street from where your grandma Lynne lives. I met your uncle Bob when I was very young, so of course I ended up meeting your dad as well.
He was about seven years older than me and your uncle, but the cool thing was that even though we were so much younger, he and his friends would still take the time to hang out with us, especially James.
We thought we were so cool getting to hang out with the older kids. They let us play football with them, or play video games with them, or just sit out with them. I remember one night that your dad and James sat with me and uncle Bob and had us laughing so hard just telling us a story that they made up right there, which I’m sure your dad did for you all the time. It didn’t really make any sense, but your uncle and I were talking about it this week and we can still remember the story about these men that were going on this really long journey, so long in fact that they walked for “7 days and 63 nights” and when they got where they were going “the chicken was beef”. Pretty silly, right? But that’s how your dad was. He was always looking to make someone laugh, even if it was his brother and his friend. And speaking of silly, have you seen this picture of how your dad’s hair used to look?
And as we all got older, I would still hang out with your dad quite a bit. Me and your uncle would go to see him at work and he would buy us some “sodas” and we would hang out in grandma Lynne’s basement and watch wrestling or watch the Cubs game and he introduced me to more of his friends that I’m sure you know very well. James was still obviously hanging around and I met Kristi and guys like Sam and Greg and Scott and your Uncle Joe and Aunt Jenny and of course, your mother. A great thing about your dad was that he always liked hanging out with his friends and had so many fun times with them, myself included.
I lived in Florida for a while, but I flew in for your mom and dad’s wedding and it was easy to see that something was starting and they were building towards something and that something was you. I’d known them for so many years that I knew you were going to be something special. I remember being so excited when I found out that you were going to be born and I met you when you were very little and have watched you grow over the years through pictures and heard so many wonderful stories about the young man you’re becoming and it fills my heart with happiness to see it unfold. I know it was sad for you when your daddy wasn’t going to live with you anymore. I know how tough that can be buddy. I went through the same thing when I was a little boy, but it’s important to know that it didn’t change the way your dad felt about you. I’m going to keep saying it, but he loved you so very much and was so proud to be your dad. Being able to take you to school, or to take you fishing or camping or to Cubs games gave him so much joy Alex. Just being around you was the thrill of a lifetime. I hope that’s something you’ll always remember.
And of course, 1908. This was a special place for your dad. He and his friends used to hang out there all the time drinking those “sodas” I was telling you about earlier. As me and your uncle Bob got older, he would take us and our friends down there as well, almost like passing the torch to the next generation. It made me so happy recently to see the picture that he took when he took you there. It really makes me think about all the good times I had with your dad over the years, which I know is hard to do right now.
And I know that may be the hardest for you right now is to smile, but I hope you know that it’s okay. That’s what has helped me through the last week buddy. Remembering all the good times that you spent with your dad and how much he loved and will always love you will help you as you try to get better. Also know that it really is okay to cry. I heard a story the other day that you didn’t want to, but every person that I talked about has cried about losing your dad. I know Scott talked with you about it on Saturday and he told you that he cried on the way over to see you. I’ve cried many times already and I know I will again. My heart aches for you young man. I know you have a tough road ahead of you, but a good, solid mixture of laughing and crying will hopefully make things better for you. And one thing I’m definitely sure of is that everybody is here for you. Whether it’s camping or fishing or playing a game of catch, I know that all of these great people you have around you will be ready to do whatever you need as you move forward and become the great man we all know you’re going to be. I want to put one more picture up that you took with your mom a few months ago….
You see that word on your shirt? That bold STRONG. That’s exactly what you and that special lady next to you are. And you’re both going to have some tough times ahead, but remember how lucky you are to have that woman as your mother. Just like you’re going to need her, she’s going to need you too and she’s so lucky to have you for a son. I just want you both to know that I’m so very sorry that you have to go through this, and if there’s anything that I can ever do for either one of you, just say the word and I’ll do my best to help. My heart goes out to your entire family, friends, and all those who knew your dad. He will certainly be missed. I wish you and your mom the very best things Alex.
For all of my readers, Mike Ochs was a very dear friend and the family is still trying to raise money for the funeral costs. If there’s anything you can do to help, please click the link below and give what you can. This young man that I’ve written to deserves to say goodbye to his father the right way. Thank you.
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