If Dad didn’t die when I was 16, I wouldn’t work a few flights of stairs below the man third in line to become President of the United States.
I would have never tried to work out my pain through poetry and playwriting. And so I never would thought myself a writer and taken a job writing computer manuals–lord knows I never thought myself geek enough for that task.
Nor would I have ever worked so hard at theater, which led me to Montana and meeting Mama. Montana led to Colorado, where it turned out I was geek enough to build websites, and Mama led to DC, where it turned out I was editor enough to write and edit on the web for teachers.
Without all of those steps, I never would have been able to come to work serving Congress, working for the Architect of the Capitol, both of which would have pleased the law student and engineer in Dad.
It would be too easy to say that I’d hand it all back in a heartbeat if I could only have Dad back. Would I really hand back Mama and our beautiful children? Because without his death, I’d never have met her.
Or perhaps I would have. There’s no way for me to tell that. What I can tell you is that I would have liked to have the chance for Dad to meet my children or
- to sing with 3B, who is a musician like Dad was
- to read Ogden Nash to 3B, who loves a good rhyme scheme as much as Dad did
- to see Jewel’s curly hair and show her pictures in his baby book to see how his hair was the same when he was a baby
- to assemble and disassemble everything with Jewel, who has Dad’s methodical, mechanical mind
And I’ll never have any of that, but the hope of that for anyone else is why I take the stairs.
Because perhaps another child will have a grandfather–if only we can cure his cancer. And I take the first step.
And perhaps that child will grow up to have a grandchild–if only we can cure his cancer. And I take another step.
And perhaps that grandchild will grow up and meet the love of her life–if only we can cure her cancer. And I take another step.
Because we can’t recover those who we’ve lost, but we can protect those who are before us, ahead of us, and because we must keep moving forward and up. Forward and up. Out of the depths. Into the light.
Each step I take forward and up is a tactile, tangible reminder of who I’m riding for.
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