Some people are born with gentle words spilling out of their lips. Some people naturally think of others and would never speak unkindly or use harsh words.
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.