“Malik, I praise the Lord for you, son of my joy though I already have two. There is no other who’s greater than you, my little boy, Malik…”
Dear son, the time has come. It seems like yesterday that I cut your umbilical cord and we welcomed your wet tiny brown body into this world that Friday evening in March. But actually, it’s been 19 years.
I knew this day would come. But I was never looking forward to it. Your remote first year of college due to COVID-19 gave us the gift of more time. But it is now time.
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Time for you to leave home and embark upon your own journey. Time, in a way, to say goodbye. Time.
There were times over these years when I wished life had a pause button. Though always aware of how quickly time and seasons pass, I endeavored to soak up our moments as father and son.
Moments… Of giving you your first haircut, cradling your head as you cried. Of singing to you our special song from the time we brought you home from the hospital.
The time when I hid just outside your bedroom to see how you managed to climb out of your bed as a baby and descend commando style the flight of stairs to the family room, where your sudden appearance scared the bejesus out of your mom.
Times of breaking your fevers. Of my sweaty struggle to insert suppositories to bring you relief as a constipated baby (You wasn’t having it, lol).
Times. Watching you take your first steps and hearing your first words. Seeing you walking beneath the kitchen table or hiding in the cabinets. Running in our backyard through the cold white spray of the garden hose.
Hoisting you on my shoulders. Hugging you. Kissing you. Tossing you toward the sky to your laughter and delight.
Looking in on you late at night as you slept, sometimes kneeling by your bed and praying for you. Thanking God, asking for His mercy and grace all the days of your life, and to allow me to live long enough to raise you.
To make good on a promise I made as a boy: To be a better man than my biological father. To break the curse of fatherlessness passed down to me by the one who abandoned me by age 4.
As your father, I have endeavored to be so much more. And yet, I am imperfect. You know many of my flaws. I make no excuses. I have always been honest with you, maybe to a fault.
May my faults and mistakes as a man not also become yours. Son, be a better man. This is my hope and prayer for you.
You are a gentle, loving, caring son. Sensitive and kind, a gentleman. Honest, sincere, a dreamer and a doer. A gift.
And as we prepare to take you to college, as so many other parents this season, please know that inasmuch as I am excited to witness you launch upon your own life’s journey, my heart is overwhelmed and my eyes filled with tears over the ending of this part of my journey as your father.
Oh, I will always be here for you, for as long as I have breath and life. I ain’t going nowhere. You are.
So, on your journey, never forget who and whose you are. Trust God, work hard, do good and never stop dreaming.
Protect yourself at all times, stay humble, never give up and remember to call your mom.
Also remember: It’s not what people call you, it’s what you answer to. Your name is Malik (king, ruler) Jamal (beautiful). And you have a father who loves and adores you.
“Malik, Malik, my pride and joy, my baby boy. Malik, Malik, my little boy, Malik.”
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