Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Being What Happens Next

"Mommy, Daddy -- let's watch the superheroes!"

Those words, paying homage to The Incredibles, echoing in my head as I run at a decent clip, one step after another, one breath after another...imagining my girls running around house, outside, down the street, jumping in the air, standing on their tippy-toes to pick sour apples...me running a little faster to keep up with them...

I am able-bodied. I can walk and run. So are the Mama and the girls. That shouldn't make us superheroes, and it doesn't really, but to those who can't, it's different. Much different.

Different for those who live an alternative afterlife post injury or illness or birth defect, paralyzed from the waist down, the sternum down, or even the neck down.

Like my best friend, Robby. We've been friends since we were 12 years old. A long, long time ago...

And then there was a fateful spring day at a swim meet our senior year in high school. Him wanting to go with a group of us to the coast instead of his swim meet, knowing perfectly well he wouldn't miss his meet for anything. Us returning early that evening to discover shockingly that he broke his neck and crushed his spinal cord on a third false start, then us rushing to the hospital to see him, his mother claiming we were family so we could see him in the ICU the next morning when he was conscious.

Three months later he's brought by ambulance from the hospital rehabilitation center to graduate with our senior class, the class of 1984, me having the honor of pushing him into the football stadium and standing by his side throughout the commencement.

Thirty-five years I've known him, and even after the accident, no matter how many times he's relived his life pre-paralysis, and wished to have it all back post, he keeps saying to me:

"I want to be around to see what happens next."

No matter how hard it's been or it gets, I want to be around...

The superhero mythos is about having extraordinary powers and using them to do good and help others (unless you're a villain, which I hope you're not). Unfortunately we take for granted the extraordinary powers that move us forward every single day, physically, mentally and spiritually, to see what happens next. But not just seeing what happens next -- being what happens next.

Prior to my run this morning, I was up looking around Robby's house, the house that we've been coming to see him in since he moved here five years after his accident. He's an artist now, and a comic book collector, an aficionado actually, and his collection is quite extensive. He's also has shelves and boxes full of comic book figures and figurines -- both heroes and villains -- in nearly every room. It's a fascination with amplified characteristics from hyper-reality fiction, an alternative afterlife of how imaginative minds tell our human story, the one we live everyday, to see and hopefully aspire to be everyday.

The irony isn't lost on either of us that he dressed like Superman for Halloween our senior year, six months prior to his accident. No matter how much we joke about the past, or long for it, the irony is never lost.

The Mama and I want our girls to "B" what happens next, regardless. To be an everyday superhero like my best friend, Robby, no matter the kryptonite we keep.




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