I am so sorry. You do not deserve this. No child deserves this.
It’s been six years and we still don’t know if we should tell you the story. Or how much of the story to tell. Is it ever the case that the truth can be more damaging than a lie? I have always wanted to protect you but this… this is something else. What am I protecting you from? Truth? Or the illusion of it?
There is too much at stake. Too much… power.
What story do I tell? The pen is in my hand but my hand is shaking. Violently. This is another breed of writer’s block. I have the tools to sculpt your reality. The rasp to shape and form your identity and who you think you are. One wrong move.
Who chose me to bear such a burden… no. Honor. What great achievement did I accomplish to merit such a privilege of carrying this responsibility? Coke still runs through my veins. The stale stench of alcohol still garnishes my tobacco-flavored breath. Who am I?
You may not ever know your father.
I don’t know if he actually loves you. I’m still figuring out whether or not he loves me. Is it possible to be born with a broken heart? I suppose that’s up to me. Damn.
I know he’s said things about you… to you.. but you can’t let those things affect you, okay? Never believe anything he says. I pray every night that you are too young to remember. Do you think I’ve messed up too bad for God to listen to me? I think that all the time but… it’s all I got.
They might not play with you during recess. They might bully you. They might not sit with you during lunch. They might make fun of you because you look… different. You may not learn as quickly as the other kids but there is nothing wrong with that. With you. You gotta be strong. Don’t let their words sink into your mind.
Raphael. You are beautiful, you hear me? There is nothing wrong with you. You are loved. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You are not a mistake. Even if your father says so. Even if the doctors say so. Even if the kids at school say so. Even if the teachers say so.
I naively believed my sheltered, Christian upbringing would automatically make me invulnerable but… it may have blinded me more than anything. Now, I have to pay the price. Now, you have to pay the price.
Your father and I are the mistakes. We are the screw-ups. And I hope you can forgive us for the debt that you inherited from our failures. We were young. And foolish. Drunk on “freedom” and high on “life”.
We wanted to try it. Just because we could. So we took our chances and bit down deep. It was far too enticing.
And that is what pains my soul the most.
This harrowing truth that you… you were just practice.
Raphael Williams was not real yesterday, but is very much alive today. He was born on October 23rd, 2016 as a pre-mature baby to a young woman who just began her first year of college. Raphael suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, along with an array of permanent birth defects that will serve as merciless obstacles for the rest of his life.
The story of Raphael Williams is real, yet fictitious. To be frank, I just wanted to practice my writing. You know, character-building, storytelling and stuff like that. Now, Raphael will live a painful and burdensome life. I’m so sorry, bud.