I’m not even sure I should be feeling anything today, but I know I am. I’m overwhelmed with emotion actually.
I wrote a book.
Three years ago in June, I told my father I was writing it. The last book he’d read was Jaws in the mid 70s. Well over thirty years ago, he read his last book. He loved music. Thank you for that, Dad. He loved old movies. Also, thank you. Somehow my sister and I grew up readers. I made a promise to my father that June. I promised I would finish writing my book and somehow get it out to the world. And then I would write another. And I would find a way to do what I loved doing while I had the opportunities to do them. The word opportunity changed for me during that visit with my father. He’d called me home to visit with him on Father’s Day because he knew he wouldn’t be around for Thanksgiving or Christmas. He was dying. He wanted to spend some time with me in a time when he could spend time with me. It was still a few months, maybe even several months, before the word opportunity truly changed in my life. Opportunity often meant luck, right place right time, positive consequence for a job well done. Opportunity to me, in its new definition, meant alive. I am still here. I am alive. I can make opportunities because I am still given the chance to wake every day, and until that chance is taken away, I need to take every opportunity, every moment, and every chance that is offered to me. Each day I wake to a shining sun, I have an opportunity my father was losing each day.
Three years ago today, September 22, 2012, he passed away. I was with him, thank goodness for the opportunity to visit him again. I miss him so much. There are moments of tears, moments of crying, moments of anger, moments of overwhelming sadness and underwhelming missed chances to love him longer. I go through times when I can sing a favorite song of his and cry until I’m certain my eyes will dry out or float away. There are times I can sing along with songs he loved, like he’s right beside me laughing and being silly with me.
Last night, I submitted all of my final work for my book. It will be released on October 4th. It’s surreal to me. But I kept my promise, Daddy. I’m doing it. It took me over three years to get it finished and ready, but I’m doing it.
After my father passed, I changed parts of my story. Deltaville is where he lived. It’s a place I haven’t been back to in three years. I spent my childhood there. And I have no real reason to go back. I have family and friends in the area. But none right there in town I would travel across the country to visit. With him gone, my opportunity to be in that place is just about gone. So, some of the changes I made to 34 Seconds revolved around Deltaville. Somehow, some way. I thought I’d pay homage to my father by placing my story in his town.
Each day I lie in bed with a migraine, I think of the opportunities I am missing because the sun rose for me and I didn’t take the bull by the horns and play every token I had. Each day I go for a run and have to push myself, I think of the opportunity I have to be there, on a trail, running. Each day my friends of family need a hug, I’m trying very hard to take the opportunity to be there. Because one day the opportunity will be gone.
Today, on the 3rd anniversary. This day. The day I lost my father. I ask you to look and see if you are taking every opportunity you can. If you aren’t, try to make every day an opportunity. And live long, love hard, and speak true.