Bud Hanley, a registered financial planner, lives with Joy, his wife of 18 years, and their children, Lauren, 11, and Andrew, 6, in Honea Path, South Carolina. The Hanleys, owners of Legacy Financial Group, Inc., a financial and tax planning firm, are active in church and enjoy fishing in a backyard pond with their kids. They lost their son, Matthew, then an infant born prematurely, in 2002, and founded Matthew’s Hope Children’s Ministry the next year in his memory. The charity helps underprivileged children at Christmas and throughout the year, and also offers scholarships to deserving students.
Bud has long written letters to all of his kids. Below is his latest letter to Lauren and Andrew. Over the next four days, Bud will share a series of his letters to Matthew, written as the baby struggled for nearly three weeks to survive and also after his death, both soon after and recently. “I promised Matthew as he died in my arms that I would work hard to cause good to come to other people because he lived and that I would use every opportunity God gave me to share His goodness,” Bud says. For further details about Matthew’s Hope, you can reach Bud at email@example.com.
Dear Lauren and Andrew,
I am amazed at the gifts you are to me, and sometimes overwhelmed at my responsibility as your Daddy.
I started writing to you both long before you were even born. I wanted to share my observations about our lives, our community and the world around us. More important, I wanted to feel close to you, and for you to feel that closeness even many years from now when you read my heartfelt words.
Lauren, I remember so well the day you were born 12 years ago. The ultrasound informed us that you were a little girl, and my heart just exploded with love. At that very moment I promised you I would protect and love and support you.
When you were a toddler, I went into the swimming pool with you. Sometimes you were scared, but you always seemed to know you were safe with me there.
Now you are about to enter the years every Dad dreads – the teen years. I wish I could always protect you from pain and fix your problems. But I’m learning that I have to teach you to handle any obstacles. That’s hard. You’re my baby girl.
Sometimes I will have to pull back a little and let you spread your wings.
Luckily, you are independent and strong willed, qualities you inherited from me and your Mom. You’re definitely a risk taker.
You’ve grown into a beautiful young lady, smart and funny, too But my favorite quality about you is your heart. You are sweet and compassionate.
My prayer for you, my sweetheart, is for God to bless you and one day let you fly higher than the sky.
Andrew, you recently made the best decision you will ever make. You accepted Jesus into your heart. I’m so proud of you, my little man.
When we lost your big brother, Matthew, I was unsure I would have the courage to try to have another child. Our family had a void from losing Matthew that I doubted could be filled. For almost two years that void grew only deeper and wider. But then you came along.
Losing Matthew was more devastating than anything that has ever happened to me. I would walk to the moon and back if I could have him back. But maybe because God took him I have you now.
You are 100% boy. On any given Saturday, you will get me in the yard playing one sport after another with you. Last Saturday we started the morning off with some baseball, then moved on to football, then fishing, then back to baseball.
The other day you looked at me and thanked me for teaching you what I have taught you. Here’s part of your list. How to catch and hit a baseball. How to throw and catch a football. How to fish for bass. How to love Jesus.
In such moments, I realize that however much I fail at anything, I’m still succeeding. Thank you for that, my little buddy. Thank you, both.
P.S. – Part 2 will appear tomorrow.