By Richard Coss
June 12, 1992 a day I did not know. A day I was in but to it I paid no particular attention. At the time I was on my own. 17 years old and king of the world. Working in a restaurant by day and partying by night with a side hustle of selling crack cocaine.
A few months later I’m arrested and busted on my way to prison. I get a short sentence of only one to four years. Not soon later I make it to work release. I go back home and sure enough right to a bar. I make a phone call and say “hey, if I pay for a cab will you ring the baby down?” The reply I received was “no, if you want to see your son you can come up to the house.
So all buzzed I make my way ready for a fight. Not once in all the nine years that we’d been dating had I ever been remotely close to her house.
I finally reach my destination and knock on the door. Her mom answers and lets me in. We go up the stairs where all of my attention is just focused on him.
Curly dirty blonde hair and almost caramel skin. Blue black eyes like the deep of the sea. Just smiling and grinning from cheek to cheek. You see, it’s later we’re now in 1993.
I sit and we play on the floor. Laughing and giggling for maybe an hour or so. His mother watched on as her parents give me the talk. You’ve got to do this and not that. I nod my head like I’m listening and say yes as I’m focused on him.
That was the night I first seen my son in March of 1993. Not on the day of his birth 6-12-92. Since then I continue to go back and forth to prison. Even though I would call his mother I never seen him again. Then a few years later she develops lupus and passes away. I continue to drink and be stupid and waste my life in prison.
I write on birthdays, holidays and in between to let him know I think of him. Finally, I get out an am doing good. I call and we talk for a few minutes here and there. He’s a busy teenager with lots of things to do. It’s going good me in Virginia and him back in New York.
Things are so good I’m just waiting on the other shoe to drop. Knowing something’s going to go wrong somewhere somehow.
So I move to Florida to visit my brothers who I haven’t seen in years. As usual when you get more than two of my family together there begins to be trouble. Between my drinking and their drinking and drugs it was an accident just waiting to happen.
For once we didn’t cause one of the others demise. Fortunately we went our own separate ways. One set to traveling, one staying, and me just moving away. Sure enough I waited long enough and the other shoe dropped.
Back to prison I go and sit for years in cold lonely cells. Someone calls mail-call so I go to see if I’m called. Yup, I’m lucky enough I’m one of the few to get one. I look at the return address and I’m shocked and frozen in my steps. Are my eyes playing tricks on me because the return address says it’s Tevin my son.
I go to my cell and sit down to open the envelope to find not one but three letters. Just like it was written out of a movie scene. One written a few years ago but never sent. The same with the second which continued into the third. I look down to see what it says in big letters of print.
“Hey dad, so I’m writing this letter again because I’ve been thinking about you and I didn’t tell you in my last letter I’m with Corrine my girlfriend, T.J.’s mother (your grandson’s mom). But I love her so much she’s the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. I wish you were here to see your first grandkid. It would mean a lot if you were here but I want to say I Love You no matter what happened. I wish you could care for me more back then like I was heart broken so bad. I didn’t know what to do. I know it’s gonna be a while that you’re going to be locked up in Florida. I know it’s gonna be weird, it will be my first time seeing you. Like when mom passed away it was really tough I even cry when I want you here even though I got my grandparents that took me and made me a man. I am today. You don’t know how bad it is to me to grow up without a dad a man to show me the way of life. I really thought I’d be in jail but I’m not made that way. I want a life and a future. So Tevin Jr. is four months and he’s getting big. He’s just perfect, I love him so much. He gets mad when he can’t get what he wants. He’s a smart boy a good looking baby. ☹ I’ve been thinking of moving out of N.Y. to North Carolina for a good job but I want to get money saved up to go down with. Yeah so I want to say don’t think I hate you. I’ve been busy and I’m not trying to not talk to you it’s just been hard for me. I wanna say I love you and I just wish you were here. Now when I need you the most to tell you everything. I’m glad we’re writing letters now but in the long run we will be together I promise. I don’t care if you were in another country I will make it happen to see you that my goal to see you and do what I want to do. Man life is crazy but I’m doing the best for T.J. I’m going to give him the world and I put that on Mom. But again I’m writing this letter because I’ve been drinking and went to write you. I get emotional and pissed… I go crazy, I don’t want to go to jail for the dumb shit I do so I control it. I love you dad I’m here if you ever need me so keep writing me so I know you’re okay, Love Tevin “
When he says he’s not built to come to jail my heart bursts. Oh how I wish I had been made more like him. He’s turned out kind of like me. A drink from a bottle and an urge to be somewhere other than where he is.
Its taken me still a couple of years after those letters to still figure out. When a few weeks ago something was said. I thought to myself he lived traveling and he’s still able to raise his kid. He’s even more a man than I am. He’s able to do what I never did. I know it’s messed up that I don’t have any memories of him but what I really regret is not giving him the memories of me.
So if it’s one day I had to pick it wouldn’t be that day in March of ’93 when I first laid eyes on him. It would be 6-12-92 because that would mean I’ll be out and doing something right. Being not just a father but a dad to my son.