Weekly Letters to my Son, Thor
Hi, I’m Cody. Previously a university teacher, I became a full-time father & writer in 2016, when my son Thor was born. I spend most of my time with my son and wife; with the free time left, I enjoy reading & working on stories.
Each week on Thursday (Thor’s Day) throughout 2023 a new letter will be uploaded to this page. Please visit this page each week to read the new letter.
These last six years for me have been the best years of my life, and I’ll write about those years in the letters to come, but what I wanted to get to in the last letter, but didn’t, is the time leading up to meeting you for the first time in 2016.
When I was eight years old, a child not much older than you are now, during a heavily spiritual encounter not that unlike an experience with DMT, I was told by a holy man the events of my whole life to come, and what I was told has vividly stayed with me, and all of it has come true. More things were told to me about my life in more spiritual experiences in my teen years, but the information only solidified what I was told as a child.
In the very beginning, one of the things I was told, I remember clearly, was that I would have a son named Jacob, and this name would not be his own. You have two first names, by chance or by luck or by fate or by divine intervention (who knows?), and thus you are named Jacob Thor. You are named Jacob and it is not your own, because your name, which everyone calls you, is Thor. Both names are religious and mythological and have significant meanings.
But to say your name was my decision alone would be false and untrue. Your mother also had a heavy hand in naming you. When she worked in London as a young woman, many years before I would even cross paths with her for the first time in 2014, she had a small teddy bear named Jacob. And the seeds for her, like for me, by God or the Universe or by Fate, or by whatever is out there watching and helping us, were sown and took hold without your mother even knowing, but I knew. I’ve known since I was a child.
But imagine being told such things as a child and having to live a life, so long and lonely, without ever knowing when these specific things would happen. So, for years I truly believed, and the knowledge became like fact to me while I waited, but as the years rolled on into my twenties and I left America to go in search of you and your mother, I began to doubt and wasn’t sure if any of it would come to pass.
While in my early thirties in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I was living an extremely satisfying and comfortable life, with money and women and an ease in my career which I had never known before, writing in my spare time, and reading a great deal. But even with all those women who were coming and going, I’d find myself in bed, late at night or early in the morning, my chest beating hard within, and I’d think to myself that if I don’t escape Vietnam — like Odysseus on Calypso’s island Ogygia enjoying her sensual pleasures with Time swiftly flying by — I’d never leave and I’d die there without ever finding you, and I’d see you in my thoughts, and I’d believe again in what I was told as a small child. I was in Vietnam for almost seven years, much like Odysseus on that island.
So, I sold what possessions I could, and took what I had left and moved to Hong Kong, where I would find you soon enough. Who knew then in all those years of Vietnam, that if I had simply stayed in that timeless realm of pleasure, I would never have found your mother and I would never have found you.
But let me be clear. I only left Vietnam for one reason, and that was to find you. Life was good and easy and fun in Vietnam. Hong Kong is a pathetic and intensely crowded city which causes too much stress and anxiety in that cramped, over-priced city which is nothing like the Old Hong Kong. Now, the New Hong Kong is a pathetic third-tier Chinese city. But for a time it served its purpose, and one must keep looking at the brighter sides to life.
Vietnam was cheap and easy going, though. But I was still not happy because I was still searching for you. It doesn’t matter if anyone believes any of this. All that matters is that I searched for you and your mother for decades, and in the end, after all the trials, the ups and downs, I finally found you both. What matters is that I found you.
So, if you’re searching for you, for something only you believe in, then keep on searching, because sure enough you’ll find what you’re looking for. I can testify to that. Whether people believe you or not, matters very little, especially when you do find what you’re looking for and you’re living your best life, completely satisfied and fully happy, blissful as Joseph Campbell writes and talks about.
Campbell explains, “Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are held in the field of your bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
I hope Joseph Campbell becomes a Mentor to you as he has been for me for the last ten plus years. He knows what he’s talking and writing about. Read his words. Listen to him speak. Study what he’s trying to teach you, and you will learn more than you could imagine.
“Follow your bliss,” can also mean that you are “Chasing after your bliss,” and that you are not in possession of your bliss just yet. For damn near thirty years, I chased after that idea of bliss, at times thinking myself mad, insane, crazy, for thinking that you and your mother could be out there somewhere in this great wide world. That’s why every relationship I ever had before meeting your mother was futile, because I knew deep down the girl or woman was not the one I was searching for, but searched I did. My bliss was so far away, decades away, and yet I followed the trails God and the Universe left for me to follow.
So, follow I did. Chasing a dream, a fantasy, a bliss that I fully believed existed someplace far away in the future, and after decades of searching I finally got lucky and found your mother and then you. And I have never regretted the life I have lived. Not for a single minute. Sure we make mistakes, but sometimes unlucky mistakes can lead to good luck and rewards. You just never know what the sun will bring in a new day. So, don’t give up when you are down and out or having a bad day or bad week or bad month. Keep pushing through that storm and I know for a fact you will be rewarded for your strength and perseverance.
I fought for you even before you were even born. I fought for you even before I met your mother. I fought for you when I was completely alone in Vietnam and, before that, South Korea, and with every person I met, quietly saying to me, “Come this way. Follow me,” I said to myself, let’s follow this to see where it takes me, and follow enough trails and signs along the way, you will most certainly find what you are searching for, and you can forget what others think, because what matters is your own life, your own joy, your own bliss.
When I was a child, in the 1980s, there was a little toy doll for boys called “My Buddy” and I loved that doll, and I’d like to think I called that doll Jacob, but what I do remember is calling it my Buddy. Much like how I call you Buddy. You are my Buddy. My best friend. Forever. And I loved that doll very much, and perhaps that doll was training me for when I had to care for you when your mother went back to work and you and I were left alone staring at each other, both of us thinking, “Mama’s gone. What the hell are we going to do now?” And we both looked at each other and I said, “Whatever we do, we’re going to do it together.” And so we have done over these last wonderful and extraordinary six years.
I started by carrying you everywhere on my chest, and now I carry you everywhere on my shoulders. Soon, you will be even too big for my shoulders and I won’t be able to carry you anymore, and that part of my life will be gone, having passed me by, and that missing piece, being able to carry you on my chest or in my arms or on my shoulders, will be a deep wound which I will never speak about, because such wounds are a part of growing up and growing old, but I will miss those little things every single day of my life from now until that time when I can no longer keep going. But don’t worry, because I’m too damn stubborn to die, and like my Granddaddy, I’ll probably live to a hundred, even though these last two years you, son, keep telling me how you so desperately want us to live for two hundred years, and who the hell knows, maybe we will.
But I do cherish every single minute with you, even the small moments, like waking you up softly to a new school day, or holding you in my arms in the elevator going down to meet the car to take us to your school, and sitting in the back of the car holding hands and talking about your school days and things that come to your mind. Those are the things I live for and look forward to each day. You are my bliss, and I will still follow you.
I will say that I give you most, if not all, of my time and energies, because I often feel like I don’t have what it takes to give others their due time and energy. I’m not superhuman, and I feel like I’m living an inadequate life, because I don’t go out at night, choosing rather to stay at home and tucking you into your bed and waking up early at 4:30 in the morning to write and to wait for you to wake, and this means more to me than social events.
I do feel like people expect more of my time and energy from me, but how can I give others that which I only want to give you. We are here alone doing this thing called life together, while your mother is stuck across the border in Hong Kong. She’d be here if she could, but she’s not, and that means it’s only us and whatever we do, we’re going to do it together.
We’re going to be a team and find the solutions to the problems that we both know are certainly to come, because life and the universe is all about change, and problems come and go, and working through them together is an honor, and a privilege. But there are those in my family that I know I should give more of myself to, more of my time and energies, but I’m simply not built that way. I feel like there should be another twenty of me in order to adequately spend my efforts on friends and family.
I wish I could do everything for everyone the way I do for you, but I know that’s impossible and not in me to do, because I am inadequate, broken — broken from too many years being forgotten by others, forgotten by friends and family and in that silence and solitude I would sit down at my desk and write stories and books. I was broken early on, at birth really, with my clubfoot and all the surgeries that came, and I was so grateful and thankful that you were born healthy and beautiful, not twisted and pained like me.
If I have regrets, the only regrets I tend to reflect on are the kinds like this one: I regret not having enough of me, not having enough time and energy to be the kind of man to all of my friends and family they wish me to be for them. But for you, I don’t have that kind of regret, because I know deep down I am give you all of me, all of my time and energies, because deeper down still, I don’t want you to grow up in a broken home where you come home to an empty house day after day and are alone at night to cook your own dinners and lunches, and the loneliness becomes a habit and a way of life you become comfortable with until you find yourself a writer writing books no one reads.
I wish for you to have a full, happy home, and when you are older you desire deeply to return home to me and your mother, and you do so frequently because you want to, and you call and talk to me daily, because we are best friends and you want to — not like with me and my family, who turned their backs on my when I was but ten years old, the age when my beloved family broke and shattered and I came home to an empty house for decades to come. I wish for you, I work hard for you, to have a happy home to come back to, to talk to you about your day, to build those habits so they become so engrained inside you that you, like me, cannot imagine it any other way.
Best Friends Forever,
November 3, 2022
Out of failure, success happens. Sometimes that’s all it takes: a comma, a brief pause between the two, a momentary reflection before moving on to something bigger and better. But these letters are not born out of my successes, but rather out of my failures. There’s no wisdom to be found here. There’s only me, the man, your Papa. For you see, I’ve been trying for the last several months to record a daily video diary to you where I’d tell you the little things I didn’t have a chance to do that day. But after all these months, I’ve not recorded a single video. Why not? Because, in the end, I’m a writer; it’s all I’ve known for the last twenty-five years: sitting alone with pen and page and my thoughts. So, out of my failure, I am going to write weekly letters to you, my son, and perhaps one day, when you have grown into a man, you will read these letters and know me, the man, the father, the writer, all the better, because Time is quickly escaping me, us, and no matter how hard I try to hold on, I can’t, I fail.
It’s October (2022) and I’ve just turned forty-three years old, and the Universe hit me with a ton of bricks, not in a good way, but in the way that makes you feel guilty for breathing, for being given all this time and space and not achieving what you know you can achieve. That kind of bleak failure no one wants to talk about. But I am writing this letter now, which won’t be published until a few months away in 2023, but when I’m motivated and organized, I prefer to be ahead of schedule rather than behind. Who knows? Maybe a few videos will pop up here along the way. So you can see my face, hear my voice. But that would be years away from this moment, decades even, because, son, you are only six years old, and this moment is weighing heavy on me.
I’ll try to explain it, but I am sure to only fail. As I’ve said, I’m a writer. I see eternities in the flash of a single moment, a second briefly glimpsed but turned into a small forever. Like this morning, walking home after being tested for covid (a daily test we’ve done now every single day for the last four months, and I grow weary of these tests which speak to me far more of a method relating to organizational behavior than it does concerning health and safety, but I digress), so I was walking home this morning, and a woman walks by and the wind catches her long black hair, lifting it up in a smooth wave, then I pass, and the moment is gone.
Sometimes, often really, I catch myself living inside a memory, especially with you. We’ll be together, early in the morning, before the sun is up, and I know this moment will stay with me for decades to come, will die with me even, and yet, there I am, standing inside that moment with you, talking with you, hugging you, feeding you your breakfast of peanut butter & strawberry jam toast. Moments like that, for me as a writer, are the musical notes I need for the creation of a symphony, but the musical notes I use are that of language, of words, and the symphony is one of Story. Every time, though, the moment is gone, and recedes into memory, waiting to me lived again. Another reason why I’m writing these letters.
I’ve been thinking and reflecting on the last three years, since January 2020 and the beginning to this covid nightmare. It was on your fourth birthday when you first wore a mask. I carried you down the street, walking with the family to the local restaurant where you like to feed the fish, even to this day you love this restaurant, and as I carried you high in my arms, you looked at me and said, “I can do it!” And I said, “Of course you can. You can do anything.” And you were so proud of yourself and I was proud because you were proud of yourself. Maybe that’s the best reason to be proud of someone. But I hate that you have had to grow in your childhood having to wear masks out in public and at school, especially since this year (2022), most of the world has moved on, forgotten about covid, while here in mainland China, nothing has changed nor is it likely to change for years to come. And because of this, your mother has been mostly stuck in Hong Kong for the last three years with brief visits home, which have been like a flickering star in my night, and since you were four years old, I have had to take care of you, sleeping in the same room as you, you in your blue car bed and me in my bed, and when you were four in 2020, you’d wake early to jump from your car bed to snuggle me at five in the morning, and as you grew, you’d wake and walk into the living room, where you’d draw me pictures of us, you and I, and a heart, and many of those pictures you drew I still have, laminated, beside my bed. Because it reminds me of our time alone together all those mornings and nights, and days and weeks, while your mother was trapped in Hong Kong and we were trapped together, together but not quite whole as a family.
I’ve been the one to stay home to care for you since you were a baby, new to the world, and we bonded in a way I have never known before in my life. As a new baby to this world, you looked to me for protection and guidance. And you still do, at six years old, but I know the day will come when you start to push me away, and that’s another reason I’m writing these letters, failures and all. I hope that day never comes, and that we can be best friends, like I say we are as I carry you from the living room sofa to your bed at night, having fallen asleep beside me listening to contemporary music: Spotify’s “Light & Easy” playlist.
In a way, these letters are a poor attempt at me trying to hold on to our moments, to each other, to you, as you were and as you are.
The last three years, with your mother having spend a vast majority of the time in Hong Kong working, you and I have grown closer in ways I never thought would happen. As you first clutched to me as a small baby, snuggled into the carrier on my chest, you and I taking our daily walks out along the beach in Discovery Bay, you now had to cling tighter as covid hit and turned our world upside down. You were brave, back then, but I could see you were scared, like most people were when they didn’t know what covid was when it came out of Wuhan. I saw you cling to me tighter that year, with your mother gone, and as the days passed into months, I saw and lived so many beautiful memories that I knew I could not hold onto, that would become another memory with all the rest. Like how you would take a bath every night at six and how you’d play with your toys, the Octonauts, and how you often invited me to join, and we’d sit in the water and play with your toy shark and whale, and pretend that the world wasn’t falling down around us outside.
No matter how hard I’ve tried to hold onto those sweet moments, they have passed one after another, year upon year, and now that four-year-old boy is gone into memory, and you are now six, and soon you will be seven, and with that, come more changes as I prepare you for adulthood. Last night, I watched from outside as you did your shower routine that I taught you over two months during the summer, instructing you on the process of shampoo and soap, and telling you how that when you are seven, you’ll have to shower on your own, despite each time my heart grieving at how we have already lost bath time together and how we are soon to lose shower time, but it is right to do so, to grow, to mature, and my job as a father is to prepare you for the years ahead, even if your mother hates me for it, because people can’t always agree on everything, and how to raise a child is by far one of the most complicated tasks someone can undertake, but I am proud to see you so proud of having accomplished taking a shower by yourself, a small feat in the scheme of tens of thousands of showers you are going to take in your lifetime, but I was here for the first, and my heart rejoices and weeps at bearing witness but not being able to hold on, because in my heart I’d like to spend twenty thousand nights watching you achieve your first shower that you did alone, just as I watched you when you were but three months old struggling to lift your head up from the red sofa in our apartment that looked out over the bay, and how my face was next to yours, and how I whispered to you, not to give up, to keep pushing, because this impossible thing, lifting your head up, would make your neck stronger over the days and weeks ahead, and this impossible thing would be, one day, insignificant and trivial. And how, after you learned to lift your head up, after all those days and weeks of suffering in front of me, of pushing yourself beyond your limits, you struggled to roll over, and how I was beside you for each of those moments, each of those days, as I am now.
Writing, for me, is taking moments like that and comprising those musical notes of language and memory into a coherent symphony of story. But in the end, I know I’ll fail. And that’s another reason for writing these letters. I’ve been writing stories and books for the last twenty-five years and no matter what I’ve done, I still have not achieved what I set out to achieve, and with that is my failure. This last birthday of mine, you and I struggled for over an hour trying to find a way to light the candles of the birthday cake so I could sing to you, that’s right, sing the birthday song to you on my birthday, our little father-son tradition, because there’s nothing that makes me happier, more satisfied than seeing you happy and satisfied. We finally lit those candles, despite the stove breaking down on us, a cosmic hiccup on the one day it didn’t need to happen, but we lit those candles and you made your wish with small hands clasped, and I pray your wishes come true.
My failures will continue, I know this to be true, but I can work helping you with your small successes along the way, just like when you were a baby and I quit everything to lay next to you to coach you through the pain of being unable to lift your head or roll over, and to carry you. Remember our motto, way back in 2016? Where I go, you go. Because I knew we were bound as one, and I was never going to leave you. So, when your mother asked me to go with her in April 2020, to leave you in China with her parents and to go with her to Hong Kong, she thinking that the border would be opened in six weeks (three years later the border remains closed), I argued with her and she hated me for it, because I told her how I was not going to leave you. She left us and went to Hong Kong alone, and it was one of the best choices I have ever made in my life.
Try not worry, son, in the years ahead, if you make someone unhappy or angry. These are temporal emotions and mean little in the scope of a life long lived.
So, this October, I’ve decided to focus on being a better father to you. Another reason for these letters. I wake early, at 4:45 a.m., shower, and prepare the table for your breakfast, and I sit with coffee at the dining room table writing a story about cowboys. I write in those hours when the sun is far from rising and I wait for you to wake. A few times you wake early, around 5:45 a.m., and come into the darkened living room in your blue pajamas where you see the kitchen light on and shining on me as I write in my small Moleskine notebook.
Once you woke early, too early, and I heard you come down the hall, and you saw me writing, me lost in another world, me being so far away from you, and you watched me as I worked, working the pen across page, seeing me the writer probably for the first time and knowing what that means, and you went back down the hall and shut the door and got back in your bed and waited until six. Thank you for that. For understanding how much writing means to me. For waking early and seeing me not as a father, not as a man, but as a writer, and letting me be who I am in those early morning hours, but I knew you were there, watching in the darkened hall your father, the failure, sitting beside a table with a single light, alone.
Best Friends Forever,
October 27, 2022
- Leaving Wishville (2020) by Mel Torrefranca & the Hope for a New Land“To think of how much there might be.”
- Novelist as a Vocation (2015) by Haruki Murakami & the Unknown Lands of a Writer“In every age, in every society, imagination plays a crucial role.”
- The Spirit of the Chinese People (1915) by Gu Hongming & The Soul of a Civilization & Deus Vult or Canossa — this is the Question“The Bible in our Chinese Religion of good citizenship says: ‘Do not go against what is right to get the praise of the people. Do not trample upon the wishes of the people to follow your own desires.’”
- The Girl Who Lived Twice (2019) by David Lagercrantz & the Rainbow Valley“It really did look like a rainbow landscape, a macabre testimony to human folly.”
- The American Scholar (1837) by Ralph Waldo Emerson & Character, Experience, and the Secrets of the Mind & Spirit“Character is higher than intellect.”
- The Archer (2020) by Paulo Coelho & The Way of the Bow“You were the one who chose the target and you are responsible for it.”