To my father-in-law:

I’ll never get to meet you.

Physically, that is.

Maybe one day in Heaven, but here on earth, unfortunately, that time won’t ever be.

I only know stories of you. The heartwarming kind that make me smile when I hear them. And the ones that make me laugh pretty hard, too.

But the best ones are those told when I see your son in you. When I hear them and think, Yep, he’s just like his dad.

Those really stick out in my mind.

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Because I may not know you, but I do. I know of you. I know what kind of man you had to be to raise the son you did.

Part of you will always be with him. Inside of him.

And even though he was only 17 when you passed, you taught him more than you probably think you did.

So I want to share with you the type of man your son grew up to be. The son you didn’t get the chance to spend enough time with. The son you missed out on because God needed you more.

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Your son grew up to be a good man. A really, really good man.

A man who didn’t let your death take away his faith. And even though he may have strayed from church for a while, he found his way back. And he prays for you. I pray for you. Our kids pray for you.

Your son grew up to be an incredibly smart man. He is one of the smartest people I know. I tell him that and he follows with, “But you don’t know that many people.” I laugh. And that’s when I see your humor. The humor he got from you.

Your son is a hard worker. He is passionate. He takes pride in his work. He is a problem solver. He doesn’t cut corners. I know you worked hard, too. He told me so with admiration in his eyes.

He wanted to be just like you.

Your son has a big heart. And a soft side not many get to see. He is thoughtful and loving. He is sensitive, too. He loves like I know you did, quiet but strong.

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Your son grew up to be a husband. The kind of husband who loves me unconditionally. And he surely swept me off my feet. I know he got his charm from you. The way he can look at me from across a roomI still get butterflies.

Your son grew up to be a dad. A really amazing one. And he struggles just like any father does. He carries the weight of financial responsibility. He works hard to balance work and family. He gives all he can.

You would be proud of him, so proud of him, because he turned out to be great.

He found his way. And as much as he misses you, he carries you with him in his heart. There is no replacement for a father’s love, but there is certainly a place for it. So thank you for letting him find his way to me. I know somehow you were a part of that plan.

Until we meet one day, I just want you to know how much I love this man you helped create.

Renee Dzieciolowski

Renee is a small business owner and stay-at-home mom to one sweet but sometimes sassy daughter and one very rambunctious son. Most days you’ll find her running on minimal sleep and chai tea lattes, trying to find new ways to entertain her kiddos (or places to hide from them!) and writing during hours she should be sleeping! Follow her blog New Adventures in Motherhood or check her out on Facebook and Instagram @newadventuresinmotherhood.