Some people don’t fight to be at the front of the line.
I’m not some people.
I was born selfish and angry and while I fine-tuned the traits growing up with three older brothers fighting for the last pork chop and the use of the bathroom, those traits, I believe, were with me from the start.
I spent most of my grubby youth wondering, “What about me?”
Would I ever get the tennis shoes I coveted or would it always be hand-me-downs back of the line and leftovers?
Would I ever get a dog of my own or my Dad’s attention?
Would I ever get that pink Benetton sweater or that seventy- dollar Swatch?
You would imagine that as a teenager, I didn’t suddenly sprout wings and start quoting Mother Theresa and you would be right.
I spent hours looking in mirrors debating hairstyles and lip-gloss colors. I stole, so that I could have what I wanted when I wanted it, despite cost or lack of cash. I spent months hating my parents for not giving me more and muttering, “Unfair,” beneath my breath.
I was nice to the people who had something to offer like cooler friends, cash, unrestricted curfews, cars, or better clothes.
I turned twenty, a difficult and surly almost- adult, and the most glorious wonderful amazing horrific sickening thing happened to me; it would ruin my life momentarily and change it forever; it involved cancer and a kid and I was the one with the kid and my dad with the cancer.
It was a long year; it was the longest year of my life.
Thank God, because it would be the last year I ever had with my Dad.
It was a year of sleepless nights, endless baby bottles, recurring radiation treatments, endless piles of laundry and last words. It was a lonely, lumps in the throat, heart-breaking, horrible, scars on the heart, sort of year.
But it was a year that without even knowing it, I stepped aside and got behind a 7-pound baby boy named Beau and my fifty-year-old dying Dad.
I can think of no time in my life I cherish more or felt fully myself.
Twenty- two years later, I’m still not always gentle and kind, but I am happier when I am and when I resort to easy old angry ways I recognize them for what they are and I don’t defend them, I despise them.
Thanks be for the year I learned that finishing first is sometimes rather like finishing last and though I wish my Dad was with me to see 2015, sometimes to learn you have to lose and if you don’t learn, well then you just lose.
And I hate losing.