January, 8 2019
A father who died just before his son's first birthday left behind an incredible gift: A journal filled out with love for his little boy. Nearly seven months after this dad's unexpected passing, his fiancée discovered the journal on their son's bookshelf. She wrote about finding the journal—and how much it meant—in a now-viral post on Reddit.
"If he were still alive it would be touching," she wrote, "but now that he's gone it's a treasure."
The book is called My Dad: In His Own Words, and it retails for just under $11 on Amazon. Each page has prompts for dads to share their thoughts and hopes for their children. The mom who wrote this Reddit post shared an excerpt of what her late fiancé wrote in response to, "How do you want future generations of your family to remember you?"
"That's a hard question to answer," his answer reads. "I want to be remembered as a good man who had his shortcomings and demons early in life. But after he got things together, he was a(n) honest, hardworking person who loved to laugh and love, [was] never afraid to lend a helping hand to whoever needed it. A man that had a good family that he loved and would do anything for."
Commenters were understandably moved by the sweet sentiment in what this dad left behind for his son. "I know it will mean a lot to him," the boy's mom wrote. "In the short time they [father and son] had together they were very close. I wish they had more time but I'm thankful for the memories."
She shared this sweet story on Reddit and wanted to "suggest that everyone try to do something like this." Dads, moms, grandmas, grandpas, and other families can all share their stories in writing now for their loved ones to treasure later.
One commenter responded to say that she's been doing just that, and "writing letters to my daughter periodically (every month or so) since she was born 16 months ago."
"I just jot down things about our life, my feelings for her, what I want to tell her," said this mom. "I write them in Google Docs so I can do it from my phone if inspiration strikes."
She went on to say she's "collecting them in a book with photos from the events described in the letters, etc... I thought I would stop after her first birthday, but I was accustomed to doing it after a year and really enjoy it, so the book is a work in progress as I still am writing letters."
Here's where things take another heart-wrenching turn: This letter-writing mom wrote that while she "thought I was just creating a fun alternative baby book...the project has taken on new meaning since I was diagnosed with cancer last week."
"I still hope my daughter will know how much I love her from growing up with me," she concluded. "But if I don't make it, I'm glad I'll have those letters to leave her."
According to Anna Wachtel, M.D., a psychiatrist in New York City and founder of PsychiatryForHealth.com, writing letters or a journal now for children to see later can be "a very positive thing."
"It's something real, in my opinion, that tells a kid how important they were in their parents' lives," Dr. Wachtel tells Parents.com. "Everyone wants to feel loved. [A journal] can be a wonderful reminder of experiences shared and a reminder of just how much they enjoyed being together."