I am blessed.
I recognize and acknowledge that.
I am the father of 2 beautiful, healthy kids and 1 angel baby. And as I stand in the sunshine of my 2 little ones, I can still feel the chill of our loss. The heaviness of the storm that swallowed us whole. I'll admit that recognizing how blessed I am, even at that time, wasn't easy. After my wife and I lost Cadence we were devastated, crushed, hollowed, and a bunch of other adjectives. I had spent the better part of 8 months preparing to be the father of a baby girl that I would raise to be a phenomenal woman. I was ready. I was excited.
And then I was broken.
It was so sudden and unexpected. But it was our new reality. And even with the emptiness, the fact remained that I was a father. There was nothing anyone could tell me to dispute that. Cadence was physically gone, but I was (and am) her father.
At some point, through the fog of despair, I made the decision that I had to use that energy. I had to make sure that everything that I had prepared for wasn't wasted. I realized that just because I couldn't pour into Cadence, I was still full and there were many vessels that needed filling. There were kids that needed to see a strong, educated, Black man persevering. There were men that needed to see a husband, shattered in pieces, fight to be strong for his wife. There were fathers that needed to see my pain to realize how blessed they were.
Fatherhood for me was a badge of honor. And I wore it everywhere. I had to make sure that the same love and compassion that I had stored up for Cadence was on display and accessible for anyone that needed it. It wasn't about the void of mine that existed, it was about the voice for others that didn't. It was about being the father that God had prepared me to be...anyway.
The reality of right now is that our kids are lost. Our kids are neglected. Our kids are forgotten. And, yes, they are all OUR kids. Their future depends on us, and our future depends on them. They need fathers. They need us. Men who are prepared to lead, teach, mold, and protect. Men who are willing to be vulnerable. Men who have been groomed by nature to nurture. Whether it's your niece, nephew, a mentee, or just a random child sitting next to you on the bus. Be conscious of the fact that they may need to see what a real man looks like. They may need to know how a real man acts and interacts. They may need to witness and be comforted by the type of love that only a father can provide. That's especially true in cities like Chicago, where the youth are crying out for affection.
Today, and every day that follows, I challenge you to tap into your reserves. Pour into those that need it. Be a light. It doesn't matter if it's your child biologically. If they are lost, be their compass. If they are unaware, share your intelligence. If they are scared, be a refuge. If they are empty, be a source of substance.
Be a father, anyway.