Two nights ago, as I lay my head on your chest listening to the sound of your heartbeat, my tears fell as I realized how surreal this all was.

29 years ago, you were diagnosed with a cancer that should have killed you. Had your parents not decided that year to migrate and do those blood tests, no one would have ever discovered those abnormal blood results in an otherwise asymptomatic, happy child.

When we married, I asked God for three good years of marriage. I didn’t think we would have children- I wasn’t sure if your long-term medication, a kind of poison that has strangely prolonged your life, permitted it.

But here we are today, with two little ones, and you turning 39, as I watch from the sides as you sacrificially lay down your life for us. I see joy in your eyes when you lower yourself for the mundane- cleaning, changing diapers, burping the baby, learning to cook, taking out the trash, volunteering for night shifts with our newborn.

That smile as you redefine Joyful Fatherhood shows me you don’t care what the world thinks as much as you do our Father.

At a birthday celebration recently, where a group of your friends gathered to pray for you, I asked what impacted you the most. Without a doubt, you said it was the prayer and advice to “love your wife in ALL circumstances.”

As I reflected upon a TED talk I had watched a few days ago on Grief, I remembered again the expectation I had had when we married, that one day, I would carry it when you leave, for the rest of my remaining life. But before that day, I would cherish every moment.

Thank you for everything you’ve laid down to love on us,

for the death in the flesh you go through each day

to bring to those around you, life.

And thank you God, for each passing year you’re alive.

Here’s to many more years of life to you.

Please be strong enough to play with our grandkids,

to grow really, really old with me.

Happy 39th Birthday, Cliff.


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