Dear Dad,

Another year has passed, can you believe it? I swear it was only a few months ago when I last wrote you. Happy Birthday, Daddy. I’ll be honest, this year feels different. I mean, every year feels different. But, this year, my heart is a little heavier than the last few. Maybe it’s because I have a lot of things going on. Maybe because I awoke with Under the Board Walk playing in my brain. Maybe it’s because I ardently miss you. As I do every year on this day and every day in between.

So much has happened in a year.

We still have Bug. And, Dad, he still loves his music. He’s still intuitive, still curious, and oh so stubborn. That little boy has my heart, Dad. He has me wrapped around his finger. In the mornings he looks for me. I’m usually in the bathroom getting ready for work and we snuggle for a few moments before I have to let him go. He loves his fruits just like me. He’s a morning person like me. He’s become another reason I keep pressing forward every day. Bug is a big boy. Sometimes I can imagine us a few years from now as he begins to get into sports. I wonder, would I push him as much as you pushed me? Probably. I’m still ultra competitive, Dad. I don’t think that will ever change. But, my imagination may only be imaginative. He appears to be going home soon. My heart breaks every day because of it.

But, then we also have a little girl in our care. I call her my Lulu Bear. Bear fits her attitude quite nicely. We brought her home this past December. We didn’t see eye to eye at first. Sometimes it’s still like that. She’s still my princess. She’s stubborn like me, Dad. And she has an attitude that puts my attitude to shame. That girl has so many different facial expressions it’s insane. At the same time, she tests my patience so I try to remember grace. Grace upon grace. She’s a girl for sure. She’s more emotional and more moody than Bug. She requires sleep. Gets incredibly hangry. And man, oh man, oh man, she talks nonstop. We can make out some words (she and Bug are only 26 days apart) but it doesn’t matter what we say she just goes on and on. It’s crazy.

Jack welcomed in a cute boy too. Keola. Well, technically Jason Jr. but eh, I don’t pay attention much to that. He’s my Keola. Just like every other niece or nephew has a different name from me. He looks like a Filipino boy. Both of Manang’s kids do. He has a trouty mouth like Tita. Serves Jack right for teasing her so much. But, he’s so adorable. I don’t see him or anyone up north often. I don’t often go farther than Seattle. The drive is just too long.

I’ve managed to write less this year than I did last year. Two toddlers and a nonprofit will do that to you. I’ve finally found my niche, Dad. Foster parenting is hard. Honestly, I think it’s too hard for my sensitive heart. But, I’ve still found a way to give back to the foster care community. I hope this makes you proud, Dad. I’m the President and Executive Director of Vancouver Angels. We are a nonprofit that supports and mentors foster kids and their caregivers. I’ve met some pretty incredibly people along this journey. The founder of the organization is motivational and I look up to her. The other Presidents and their chapters and all the other people that work for this organization is amazing. We aren’t faith based but Susan (the founder) is never shy to talk about her faith nor reminds me to keep my eyes on Jesus and to be prayed up. This is where I belong, Daddy. In this organization, doing good, loving on children and caretakers. I know it is so needed – especially loving on the caretakers.

Last year I know it was a rough letter. And, I’m sorry. There was a lot in my brain that I needed to get through. I’ve learned to love myself a little more. To take care of my well-being because I can’t love and give to others if I’m not loving and giving on myself. I’ve realized – finally – that faith isn’t about saying, “Hey, I’m a Christian!” or doing all the emotions. It’s truly about the heart. I’ve had to grow up a lot in regards to my faith this last year. I’m pleased to report that my faith, not my religion, is what has kept me going through this foster care journey. I’d have given up if it wasn’t for God. Every day I ask for strength because there is no way I can do it without Him. Thank Him for me, will you?

I hope you’re having the best Heavenly birthday, Daddy. I love you and miss you a ton. Kiss my sweet babies for me. Say hello to Mama. Tell Gramps my heart misses him. Sing with the angels, old man. Love you bunches.

Hun Girl xoxo