Dear Step-Dad...

Dear Step-Dad,

I still remember the first day we met. It was Christmas. My mom wanted me and my brother to meet you. She invited us to your house for brunch. My brother agreed to go. I decided not to - I felt bad for my dad (wow, the irony, looking back on that now!) Eventually, I decided to come along.

You were so nice. I remember thinking wow, this guy looks like a hard ass. And that's one word people often used to describe you. A hard ass, rough and tough guy. But to anyone that got to know you, you were the biggest, nicest, most kind and loving person I ever knew.

Eventually, we'd get to know you better over the years. You and my mom didn't marry for several years later, but you were always present in my life. I can remember countless times I spent holidays at your house eating dinner with you, or just seeing you stop over after work to give my mom a hug and a kiss. You were always present, which is something that over the years my dad ceased to be.

On my 18th birthday, you sent me 18 roses, and that meant the world to me. When you and my mom married, we all moved in with you, and you didn't have to let me and my brother come; we were both over the age of 18 and old enough to be out on our own, but you took us in because we were family after all.

Sadly, cancer would come into your life, and eventually take you from us. First, your bladder. Then your lungs, then brain. Then just random tumors here and there. You'd go through chemo, you'd go through radiation, and you'd get better. Cancer tried to kick your ass so many times, and so many times you said fuck you. Fuck you cancer, you're not taking me. But last December, with more lesions in your brain, and your lungs, and your adrenal glands, there was nothing more they could do. There was no more treatment options. There was nothing. And slowly, day by day, cancer sucked the life out of you. 

I came to see you the Saturday before your passing. I hugged you and told you I loved you and you told me you loved me too. You thanked me for coming to see you. I am forever grateful I got to tell you I love you one last time.  And then, not even 5 days later, you were gone.

You have left a tremendous hole in my heart. I will forever miss you and love all the time we spent together. Your funeral service was very hard to get through. Seeing the 40-ish Patriot Guard Riders stand outside the church with their American flags to honor you and your service; being presented with a plaque for your service, standing in awe at the color guard, presenting my mom with the flag they unfolded and folded for you - I was in awe. Seeing that tiny church packed with nearly 250 people - I've never been to a standing room only funeral service until now. And its a testimony for how loved and respected you were. 

Fuck you Vietnam War. Fuck you Agent Orange. Fuck you cancer. You took my dad away, motherfuckers.

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