If Tomorrow Never Comes: A Letter To My Son On His First Birthday


Recently, my neighbor passed away after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was only in her early forties and left behind a husband and young son. Her loss hit very close to home and made me stop and think that if something were to happen to me now, my own son would have no memories of me.

There are so many things I want to teach him and that I want him to know as he grows up. Of course, I hope I am always there in person to tell him. However, it got me to thinking, if I was not there to guide him to adulthood, what would I want him to know? As his first birthday approaches, I decided to write him a letter, telling him all the hopes I have for him.

Dear Son,
Well, we survived the first year. Honestly, I was never too worried about you because babies are pretty hearty; I was mostly worried about your dad and me. What a year it has been: challenging, alternately long but also short, and in a word, awesome. You came and completely turned our lives upside down in all the best ways. I hope in the years to come this letter will serve as a reminder, both in the good times and the hard times, of the many hopes we have for you.

I hope you know how blessed you are.
So much of our success in life is owed simply to where we are born. You were fortunate enough to be born in a nation that guarantees your freedoms, where opportunities are plentiful, and you were born to two parents who love you deeply and will ensure all your needs are met. Remember that when you have a hard time understanding why something that seems so easy to you is a struggle for someone else.

Your advantages should never be an excuse to not work hard. Rather, you should use your opportunities to do great things: for yourself, for others, and for the world around you.

I hope you are kind.
I hope you are kind to yourself and remember your value and worth. I hope you are a good friend and one day a good husband. Life is best lived when you are surrounded with people you love. I hope you are kind to animals and to the planet, a good steward of the earth. Be kind to everyone, especially to those less fortunate than you. Be generous and giving without any expectation of re-payment.

Have a tender heart even if that means it breaks more often. The world can be cruel and life can be difficult but kindness and love will always win.

I hope you travel.
The world is big and full of many interesting people, places, and cultures. I hope you are able to experience as many as possible.

It is easy to fear what you don’t know and when you fear others, it is hard to love them. Travel opens your eyes and heart and drives away your fears. Travel changes you and your worldview. It gives you an appreciation for others while simultaneously giving you an appreciation for home.

I hope you know success … and failure.
Of course my mama heart wishes you could live a life with no rejection or pain. Unfortunately that is just not the way of the world. As much as I hope you find success, I also hope you hit some bumps along the way. Failures teach you to work harder, to try again, and to be gracious in losses so you can be gracious in wins. Failures help you appreciate your successes even more. I hope you find your passion — what makes you come alive. I hope you pursue those passions and find great success. Your dad and I will always support your dreams and do everything we can to help you realize them. I truly believe with hard work, the sky will be the limit as to what you can achieve. We cannot wait to see who you become!

I hope you always know how loved you are.
I wish every child had one person in their life to love them the way you are loved by so many. You are blessed with the love of parents, extended family, and friends. Dad and I would give our life for you—we love you completely and have from the moment we found out about you. You can always come to us for anything—our love for you is bigger than any shame or embarrassment you may have. There will be days when you feel unlovable, as we all do. It will be then that I hope you look at this letter and remember just how cherished you are.

Thank you for making me a mama, sweet boy. You are my greatest gift and the joy of my heart. I will always be proud of you, always support you, and always love you. My biggest hope for you is that you will always know this.