Halloween 2018

Dear Morey and Sophia,

My father died 20 years ago. My parents got divorced when I was young. He still lived nearby, and I saw him most days when I was in high school because he was a teacher there. But he wasn't very interested in being a part of my life. After high school, I only saw him a few times. I wrote to him from Hawaii, but he never wrote back.

My father and me when I was less than two years old.
Two years before he died, I drove to his house to talk to him. He was mowing his lawn and he was surprised to see me. So surprised, in fact, I mistakenly thought for a second that he hadn't even recognized me. I flatly told him that I wanted to be in his life again. We agreed to have lunch later that week and talk things over. But he never called to arrange a meeting. I never saw him again.

His death made certain there would be no more chances to re-connect. It's easy to believe that "someday" you'll get to do important things. Tomorrow is always full of potential - until one day, there is no tomorrow.

It's possible he and I could have made a difference in each other's lives, or even brought happiness to one another. But we will never know. It could have been an experience worth more than any amount of money. But in the end, it was worthless. What a waste.

Unlike my father, your father - that's me - wants to be in your life. Unfortunately, money drives us apart. First, when I was married to your mother, we needed money so bad, I went to Iraq and Afghanistan. Afterwards, when we were getting a divorce, I kept working far away to earn the money I needed to pay for lawyers to fight your mother's lawyers in court. Another waste. After the divorce, the judge ordered me to pay your mother so much, I had to keep working overseas, looking for another war where I can earn big paychecks again. I can never return to the USA and just have a normal job in an office and see my kids like I did before. Lawyers and judges have made a mess, and it will never get better (unless your mother wants it to). If the lawyers just wanted to ruin everything for us, they did a great job.

I am isolated from my daughters. It's unfair to me, and unfair to both of you. I'll never understand how a father should lose access to his own children when he's committed no crime, only loves his kids, never abused his kids, never neglected them and tried very hard to provide them with a good life.

I think back to the day my father died. I knew that my opportunities to know him again were hopelessly dashed forever. He is dead and gone, and I am left here on Earth without him, wondering about an alternate life that I will never know.

I transfer these thoughts to both of you. Someday, you'll be told that I'm dead and gone. Maybe when you're older, you'll wonder about what it would have been like to have a father. Especially one that loved you and wanted to share the world with you. But it will be too late. You will be denied such a gift - forever - just like I am.

Your mother told me directly once that my children are better off without me. I'm sure she tells you the same. Maybe you're starting to believe it. But you only know half the story. And you must remember that because of the crazy Family Court system, the more I stay away, the more money I have to pay. The lawyers and judges are only interested in getting as much money as possible. They don't care that you are denied a father. I am worth more if I am dead to you than if I'm involved in your life. Your mother didn't decide that I was bad for you until a lawyer told her how much money she could get by getting rid of me. I'm sure your mother loves you, but she's got one eye on your pricetag.

Time moves faster than you think. I'll be dead and gone before you know it. To me, it's insane that we have opportunities to be in each other's lives right now, new stories could be created. But these are opportunities that are slipping away. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. And lawyers and judges - strangers all - tell your mother to keep us apart for money. It's a mad world, and I wish it were different.

P.S. @Morey: remember when we planted palm tree seeds at the house in Waimea?
Look how big they are now!
@Sophia: I am very sorry that we have so few memories together. We need to make some.
I love you and miss you always. It's Halloween today as I write this. I wish I could see your Halloween costume.

note: posting here is the only reliable and uncensored way I can communicate with my daughters