As I type this open letter to you, your baby boy is far from a baby. Nevertheless, your guidance and instruction is needed more than ever. Ironically, I’m a behavioral health counselor. I’m just a few classes away from working towards pursuing my license as a therapist. With that said, I study people and behavioral patterns. I became enthralled by certain facets of therapy because it helped provide context to the pain I’ve silently endured for decades. Young black boys are not taught to be in tune with our emotions. I quietly honed this innate ability in the shadows as my community did not value sympathy, empathy and vulnerability. I was taught to be rugged and tough and always be ready for combat. I’ve written many songs for and about you through the years. I finally mustered up the courage to release one on my album called ‘So to Speak’ in 2011. During my release, with my brother and sister in the front of the stage, I fought back tears while performing this song. I say all of this as if you haven’t been watching over me this entire time. As if your light from Heaven does not shine down on me. I probably should know better than that. Grandma instilled faith in me and, while I’m spiritually fluid, I am rooted in my faith. Last year was the first time I had been to your gravesite since 1982. I couldn’t have done it without my brother and sister. They have that fight and ability to love hard. Based on the stories that I’ve heard about you, they get it from you. Your baby girl is so much like you. Your sisters and brothers are in awe when they hear her speak, see her style of dress and see her heart. Our big brother has kept us both out of harm’s way. It is because of him that I am where I am today. I say all of this because I miss you. We miss you. I don’t know if you like coffee, but I wish we could have coffee together. I need that voice to correct me when I’ve fucked up. I’ve made some stupid mistakes and maybe I wouldn’t have if I could have picked up the phone to call you. Mom, I honor and cherish you. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t put forth effort to keep your legacy alive. As tears begin to flow down my face, I am completely comfortable with this moment of vulnerability. I thank you for being there all of these years. Just remember, that I still want my conversation over coffee when I meet you in Heaven. I hope they have the good kind.