If you are reading this letter, it is because your father thinks you might just understand what your crazy uncle is trying to say.
As I write this letter, you have yet to reach your second birthday.
By the time you read this letter, my youth will have long since passed and yours will be gaining steam.
To the young man I love with all my heart, I want to share some of my 32 years of wisdom with you.
As you get bigger, you will begin to understand the power of physical strength. Later you will begin to understand your strength within.
Your father was always a physically strong fellow, but it was his inner strength that I will always remember. If he has not yet told you his story, then he will someday — a story of true strength and the price that comes with it.
My big brother, your father, lost his big brother when he was a young man. When Marco passed at age 13, your dad was only 11, but he felt he needed to grow up overnight.
He protected me from the harsh reality of life. He protected me from losing my childhood.
He gave up his childish ways so that I could keep mine.
I woke up and he was my only brother.
It was difficult to comprehend at age 9, but your father made sure that I remained a child full of wonder.
Even at a young age, when the world had been unfair to him, he remained kind and full of heart.
You must always remember that true strength is not found in force, but rather in compassion. Be kind, Mark, even when the world is not.
The world is a big and scary place, but just do not let it scare you, little buddy. Fear is a good thing, but you must be able to separate fear of fear and fear of doing what is right.
I remember being young and believing that the most important thing was fitting in. I would have done almost anything to be cool.
I can remember a time in high school when I joined in with a group who were laughing at someone for being different.
At that moment, I felt like I was one of the popular kids.
I saw that student later that day in the hall. I was hoping he would not recognize me, but he did. I could see the hurt in his eyes, and the truth was that I was not any different than he was.
There will be many times in your youth when the right thing to do seems unpopular. Doing what is right may not bring you reward or acceptance, but it will bring you peace.
As you get older, the weight of this world grows along with you. Most of that weight you carry around is because you’re trying to be something you’re not.
Trust me, Mark, it is hard enough to be yourself, let alone someone else.
Be comfortable in your own skin, and never apologize for who you are. One truth in life is that you will wake up you and go to bed every night you.
Love that person you see in the mirror and allow him to smile back at you as often as possible. You must know by this point in your life that you are loved, and you are learning to love others beyond your family. Open your heart and try to live a life through love.
When love finds you, do not be afraid to love another. I had a love once that I believed was going to last forever, and when forever ended, I was certain my world was over.
The nature of love can leave you feeling sick at times. If you find yourself heartbroken just remember that the same love that broke it is the same love that will mend it.
When your heart is broken, remember to be a man and cry. Do not let the ways of the world dictate your love.
This world is a pretty amazing place, so try not to focus on the shadows it casts. Laugh as much as possible. Find joy in the hardest times because, believe it or not, you will be laughing about it later.
Do not take yourself or this world too seriously. One of the greatest traits that any person can have is the ability to laugh at themselves.
One time your grandmother and I tried to drive the family van into a low-clearance parking garage.
We made it through the entrance, and that was as far as we got because our van was taller than the height of the ceiling.
We had cars behind us honking, and people in the parking garage laughing at us. When we finally got the van unstuck, we saw the mangled luggage rack on the top.
We looked at each other and just started laughing. We looked like fools, but nobody got hurt, and the world kept on turning.
When you tumble down, get up and laugh — after all it is kind of funny. Do not be mad when the world laughs at you because you will have your chance to laugh at the world.
Always remember that life is a journey. Everything that has a beginning must have an end. Try to enjoy the path between the two.
Dream big and never say you cannot do something.
Da Vinci once said, “If someone tells you that you cannot paint, then by all means paint.”
Always believe in yourself and understand that you will fail. It does not matter that you fail, it only matters that you get up. Thomas Edison tried 1,000 times and failed before he finally created the light bulb.
Life is not about anything other than living it. Keep you eyes, heart and mind open to it. Live your life for the dash.
The dash is that little mark on a tombstone that is set right between the date of birth and the date of death. Actually, it is hyphen, but it’s a dash to me.
It is the only part of a tombstone that has any significance.
When you are old enough, you may have more questions, and I will be there. I will always be there.
Your Uncle, Los