Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fatherhood

There's nothing I wouldn't do for you. 

I watched you take your first breath, I saw the life fill your eyes.

I knew you before you knew me. 


I held you before you held me. 

But, you changed me, before I changed you.

I would give my last year, my last day, my last hour for you. 

I would give you my last breath. 


I would walk with you, I would let you run. 

I would let you run farther, I would lift you up.

I would raise you on my shoulders, I would raise you as high as I can go.


But you'll climb higher than that. 

I would teach you, I would be taught by you.

I would present you at the feet of unworthy kings and magistrates, and they would know to bow low.


I would carry your name on my lips to the farthest corners of the farthest ends of this world. And every other world. 

I would keep you forever. 

To the right one, I would give you away.



I would hold back Earth and Hell for you. 

I would give you all that I have. 


I would give you more than I'll ever have. 


I would hold your hand. 


I would know your heart.

I would cheer for you, I would weep with you. 

I would never leave you, I would live for your smile. And your laughter. And your tears and your triumphs. 

I would serve you.

I would serve by your side.

I would be a better man for you.

I would be noble, because you are noble.

I would see you with my last waking moment. 

I would feel your touch on my hand, when all else has faded to shadow.

I would love you, for longer than life or space or time. 




 I would be your father.
 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Racing for a Cure



I can't get this image out of my head.

A sea of humanity.


A river of pink.

Thousands upon thousands of people, in pink scarves and hats, and tutus, and feather boas, and t-shirts with barely disguised innuendo, and pink tiaras, and pink striped socks, and all for one purpose:



To kill a monster.


If you don't already know someone with breast cancer, you will. One in eight women, in the United States, will develop invasive breast cancer in the course of their lives. Last year nearly 40,000 women  in the United States died from breast cancer.


Those statistics floored me. How many women do you know? I have a wife, and two daughters. I have a mother. I have a mother-in-law who has faced this beast already. I have sisters-in-law, and friends and neighbors.

This is a fight for life, and this monster has to die. 

                                   
 And how do you beat this killer?


I'll tell you what I saw today. You put on the goofiest costume you can find, and you laugh in the face of death. You take back your body.


You celebrate every breath, and you remember the ones who have fallen. And you pick up the standard, and you lock arms, and you march straight into the jaws of Hell if that's what it takes.


Defiance is a characteristic of the human spirit. No one likes to be told what to do. And when cancer says die, you can be damn sure that someone is going to resist.


And, when the monster is breast cancer, the front lines will be clothed in pink scarves and hats, and tutus, and feather boas, and t-shirts with barely disguised innuendo, and pink tiaras, and pink striped socks. 

And they'll be laughing, because they know they are going to win this war. 




 This monster is going to die.



Monday, December 22, 2014

Silent Night and Peace on Earth: The Christmas Truce of 1914


December 24, 1914

Silent Night.

It began with Silent Night. In German, Stille Nacht.

In the summer of 1914, the world went to war.

And it was a most profound sort of war -- it was truly a war between worlds. On battlefields, with names like Flanders, and Alsace Lorraine, and Verdun, the ancient world of chivalry -- where soldiers held war as a noble and heroic endeavor -- collided with the modern world, and it's new, and fearful, means of efficient killing, and mass destruction.

As the war, which both sides optimistically, and naively, thought could be over by Christmas, dragged on toward year's end, the English, French and Belgians dug in to the muddy trenches, of the Western Front, opposite the Germans and Austrians. And, there, they killed each other with a ferocity and sophistication the world had never seen.


These enemies in the trenches had much in common. They were young men; most, far from home. They had girlfriends, and mothers, and love for their countries. They also lived in similar, wretched conditions, fighting the elements and disease, as much as they were fighting each other. The average life expectancy, in the trenches, was six weeks.

And Christmas.

There was a strong love of the Christmas holiday, and it's traditions, in all the home countries of the combatants. But, in 1914, the word from high command, on both sides, was no Christmas truce. No fraternization. No letting up. The fighting was not to be stopped, for any reason.  But, sometimes an idea becomes so powerful that it cannot be denied.

On Christmas Eve, the rain which had fallen incessantly for weeks, suddenly stopped. The clouds broke and the stars shone brightly down, and the muddy ground froze, becoming easier to walk on. As the allied troops looked out across the surreal hell of No Man's Land, what they saw astonished them. Objects began to appear atop the parapets, all along the German lines. Peculiar, because, on the Western Front, to be conspicuous was to invite death. The objects, flickering in the cold air of that Christmas Eve, were tannenbaume -- German Christmas trees.


After the trees came the hastily made signs:

"You no fight. We no fight."

"Happy Christmas, English"

And after the signs came the singing.


And in the allied trenches, though they may not have known the language, they knew the hymn:

Stille Nacht...Silent Night

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh...Sleep in heavenly peace.


The next morning, the bravest men in the world, laid down their arms, and walked out, from the trenches on both sides, into the face of almost certain death. And on the frozen battlefields, they shook hands, and talked of home. Together they buried the dead, littering the fields. They exchanged photographs, and cigarettes, and there was even a game of soccer. They ate, and sang, and shared with one another what little they had.


And they prayed that the next Christmas would find them all in happier circumstances.


It didn't.

It wasn't perfect, and it didn't last. There is no sense pretending that Christmas solves all the world's problems.

The war dragged on for four more years, and cost a frightful number of lives. The gods of war swept across the face of the earth, in more and more devastating ways. And, in many respects, the world has not looked back. But, on the precipice of the modern world, on the bleak and barren battlefields of the War to End All Wars, humanity paused, and did something that echoes down to us, one hundred years later. For one brief and beautiful moment, Peace was more profound, and more preferred, than war.

For a few brief nights, no shots were fired. No one died. Where there is peace, there cannot be war.
Love and hatred cannot coexist, and the message of Christmas, at its heart, is a message of love.

Our world today is embroiled in a struggle that has no end. To rid the world of terror, is a task of eternal vigilance. Nobody desires war, but sometimes simply wanting peace is not enough. Liberty and security are purchased by the lives of the willing and the brave. The world, into which the Savior was born, was not a world of peace. Upon the announcement of the birth, conflict did not cease. The lion did not lie down with the lamb. The peace and goodwill declared by the angel were not given to the world collectively, but individually. Peace comes through an understanding of our place before God, and goodwill as a result of the Savior's unselfish sacrifice on our behalf. 


Of all the year, the Christmas season is the time to remember that Goodwill toward men is the best way to bring about Peace on Earth.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Advice I Might Not Always Give (so, run with it)

I'm in a mood.

I don't know if you would call it reflective, or nostalgic, or contemplative, or goofy -- but I feel the need to pass on some advice to my children, that I might not otherwise share. So, I thought I'd write it down before the mood passes.

To my children,

Life is short.

You don't realize this yet. But before you know it, you'll be staring down the barrel of forty, you'll have a spouse and a mortgage and kids of your own. You'll have responsibilities and cares. That's the way of life, and it's okay. In fact, it can be wonderful. But, right now, you're very lucky -- childhood is a precious gift. Mine certainly was, and if I could grant you one wish right now, it would be for you to have the magical childhood that I had.


There are things that I want you to do....but not necessarily while I'm watching...


My advice to you is to stomp in the rain puddles. Make the biggest splash you can.


Pour glue into the palm of your hand, let it dry and peel away your new skin.


Eat snow. White snow.


Climb higher than you think you can. Higher than you think I would want you to.


Play with your food.


Run fast and walk slow.


Jump out of a swing.


Destroy your toys in creative ways (just not your new toys).


When you play games, make up your own rules.


Dream big dreams. You may never be an astronaut, or a secret agent or a superhero, but aim in that direction.


If you find something that needs coloring, color it.

Get dirty.

Get wet.

Sing out loud.

Sneak a kiss, when you get the chance.

Make good friends and big plans.

Build rockets and dig for dinosaurs and have tea parties.

If it's beautiful, stop and look at it a little longer. If it's not beautiful, make it so.

Dance badly, but enthusiastically.

Get to know your world -- hold it, taste it, feel it, take it apart, put it back together (disregard the left over parts), conquer it, stand in awe of it.

Hold every experience in your heart, and make memories.

Write a grand story. Tonight you have my permission.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Twenty Years (and counting...)

And suddenly...it was twenty years later.


On a cloudless morning, in the waning summer of 1994, my life changed forever.

On September 2, 1994 -- a skinny, aimless, hopelessly romantic kid -- I married the most beautiful girl I'd ever known. Sharon was the girl that moved me, that took my breath away, that made me smile, that made me want to be a better person.

We met on a pile of laundry, in Jupiter Hall, at Southern Utah University. She was an RA, I was a vagabond, existing between my aunt and uncle's home in Enoch, and my best friend, Aaron's, dorm room, and the gas station where I was working graveyards every other night. It was Aaron's laundry that I was sitting on, after a long shift overnight at work, when he introduced me to a blurry image of a girl -- whose name I didn't quite catch ( I thought her name was Shannon for the first week I knew her).

Our first date was a week later, on a Friday night, when I thought I'd been stood up by someone else (it was a miscommunication, and it turns out I was the one doing the standing up -- but you don't stand in the way of destiny). We stayed up all night, watching movies, and laughing...and we never looked back.

Three months later, I asked her to marry me.


Three months after that, I held her hand across the altar in the Salt Lake Temple, and pledged myself to her for time and eternity.

And then she finished school and I didn't.

And then we moved.

And then we had jobs, and pretended to be grown ups, though we were still children.

And then we had our first child -- a blonde, blue eyed beautiful daughter -- and we thought we were getting old. And we didn't know how to be parents, and it was the hardest thing we had ever done. But we got through it, and we got better at it.


And then we rented a small house in Kaysville, and with our little daughter, we were now a family, instead of a couple.

And I learned to see life through a lens. And Sharon worked with troubled youth.

And then, on a cold December night, a week before Christmas, my dad died. He died before we could tell him that our family was going to get bigger. And six months later, but earlier than he was supposed to come, we had a fat little boy, who I gave my own name. And we were the parents of children.


And the kids grew. And my hair started to thin, and Sharon developed silver highlights. And I loved her. And, despite my failings, she loved me too.

And then we moved to Farmington, and fell in love with it too.

And we made good friends. And we cleaned the house, and mowed the grass, and washed the laundry and watched the kids grow. And we were frustrated, and tired, and happy, and lucky. And we had another little girl, and the doctor said no more -- and we agreed.


And it was hard being parents. And it was not always easy being married. But we laughed more than we cried, and we embraced more than we withdrew, and worked through the hard times, and we came out stronger.


And one Christmas Sharon gave me the most amazing present.

And then our children went to school, and I tried to go to school again. They succeeded and I failed. And Sharon loved me anyway.

And then we bought a house, later than everyone else, and it was a home to make memories in. And our children grew, and we loved them more than anything. And we went to Disneyland four times.


And I stood by Sharon's hospital bed more times than I can remember, and wished that I could take away the burdens she bears with such grace. I saw the doctors surgically remove all of our children from her body. I saw her deal with infections, and other diabetic complications. I saw her have parts of her body removed, so that she could stay healthy.


And then, in 2009, her doctor said cancer, and I thought our life was over. I thought my life would end -- because Sharon was my life. But, she beat cancer too.


And then I lost my job, and Sharon told me it would be okay, and I found another one.


And the earth went around the sun twenty times, and the sun rose every morning, and it set every night. And the rain fell, and brought life, and the snow fell, and took it back. And the warmth of spring brought it back again. And seasons brought us joy and sorrow, and then joy again.


And I grew a beard, and Sharon thought I was weird. So, I shaved it off. And she still thought I was weird.


And I learned to ride a unicycle.


And Sharon learned to crochet little dolls, with big heads, and lots of hair --- and won a big award at the county fair.

And a million wonderful things happened to us. And a million everyday things happened to us. And we learned that you can't have one without the other.


And we had amazing children.


And a super family.

And the story of our lives was written in our eyes, and told in the places we went, and the things we did, and the things we didn't do. And the wind, and time, blew gently into our faces, and the stars shone down softly upon us.

And loving Sharon moved me, and took my breath away, and made me smile, and made me want to be a better person.

Loving Sharon made me a better person.

And twenty years was just the beginning....

Thank you Sharon, for the smile on my face, for the hope in my heart, for the dreams in my mind, and the love in my soul.

I love you, as I have always loved you, and will always love you...more every day.