Today marks the 25th anniversary of the death of my father. 25 years have passed and I’ve grown from a teenage girl to a woman, but if I was sitting in a room with you, I still wouldn’t be able to tell you about my dad without my voice cracking.
Losing my dad was the single most significant thing that had ever happened to me. It changed the whole trajectory of my life and it colored everything I did for many, many years.
Then I found out I couldn’t have children.
In many ways that has trumped my father’s death. It has taken the title of Most Significant Event. It has changed the trajectory of my life in ways I could never have imagined, and it still colors everything that I do. But already I am able to tell you that I can’t have children, without my voice cracking. Because what losing my dad taught me is that life goes on and that I will survive. It does, and I will.
Last night I spoke about writing at the Wellness Community, a cancer support center near my home. I sat in a room with survivors, women whose Most Significant Event has given them an up-close view of their own mortality. Their diagnosis changed their lives and continues to color everything that they do. But they’re here, they’re talking (often with cracking voices), they’re telling their stories and they are surviving.
Life deals us blows; it’s the nature of the thing. But we go on and we survive. That’s what makes us human.