Today, Michael Brown Sr. will celebrate his first Father's Day since his son, Michael Brown Jr, was shot and killed by a police office in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014.
It goes without saying that this will be a difficult day for Brown Sr. and his entire family, and he took the time to write an emotional, personal essay about his struggle to cope with the pain for TheGrio.
"As Father's Day approaches, my emotions are like hot bubbles in a pot of boiling water—the disbelief, the rage, the grief crashing to the surface again and again," he wrote. "I miss my son. I'm still grieving."
Brown Sr. explained that he and his son didn't always see eye-to-eye, especially when the 18-year-old announced his decision to pursue a rap career. But in a tragic turn of events, part of his desire to become a well-known name came true.
"Mike would say things that would confuse me or piss me off. Then, after some time, I'd realize that when he said something, it usually had meaning," Brown Sr. explained. "For example, on the day we celebrated his graduation from high school, he announced that he wanted to be a rapper. 'That's all fine and good,' I responded, 'but you're gonna stay in school and you're gonna stay focused.'
He got angry and told the family, 'One day, the world is gonna know my name. I'll probably have to go away for a while, but I'm coming back to save my city.'
Like most parents, I wanted to support my child's dreams, but I wanted him to be realistic, too. How in the hell was I supposed to know Mike's prediction would come true?"
When Brown Sr. received the phone call that his son had been shot, he admitted that he went into a state of shock, that didn't allow him to fully process what was happening, until the funeral. He then recalled an angry phone call with his son, who said that he'd been having "visions and images of death" about his sick wife.
"Standing there, as they shoveled dirt on Mike's casket, our last conversations blasted loud in my head," Brown Sr. said. "My boy hadn't been talking about my wife's condition on that day he'd called me at the hospital. He had been having visions of his own death. And I couldn't hear it."
He went on to explain that having to deal with false reports in the media made things that much worse for the family -- "There were many nasty, evil stories about Mike's mom and me. According to the media, it was our fault that Mike was killed by a cop. On top of my grief, I had to deal with accusations that I was an "absentee father."
But the painful letter ended on a positive note, with him urging fathers, and especially black fathers, is to remain active in their children's lives, and not take a single moment for granted.
"My single plea to my brothers and all fathers on this Father's Day is to connect," he wrote. "don't let your kid's attitudes, your relationship with their moms, the mistakes you may have made, or your kid's sometimes strange behavior, attitudes or smart-mouth comments serve as an excuse to stay disconnected. Put aside your pride and your false sense of manhood and reach out to your kids. They need you."