I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately. Specifically, I've been wondering what he'd think of my life and career if he were still alive.
When I was young my dream was to be an author who wrote books that both my parents would enjoy and be proud of. Of course my mom is my number one fan, and I love her for it, but I also wonder what dad would say about the craziness that's become my life.
As I was writing Recovering Charles I began to realize that too often life's tragedies sing a tune we choose not to hear. It is the sweet, comforting sound of a second verse.
Many of you may know that when I was 16-years-old my father was taken by cancer. In the weeks and months after I heard only sorrow, grief, self-pity and loneliness. But in time I learned to hear something more.
My life had a second verse.
Not only do I now think of my life's greatest tragedy with a set of more mature emotions, I have learned to value it. I have been blessed in the years since with a deeper understanding of who I am and what my dad's legacy was.
So far my life's second verse is trying to be less selfish, more charitable, and more kind each and every day.
I have a long, long way to go, but at least I can hear my second verse playing faintly in the background.
I believe we all can have a second verse, if we choose. And it's not just individuals, it's couples, angry neighbors, families and yes, even an entire community.
A few years ago I was gripped by Hurricane Katrina. The coverage was numbing and the suffering so intense and real I found myself aching for complete strangers.
It was something I hadn't felt since 9/11 and it was, perhaps, even stronger.
It was during those days following this national tragedy in the Crescent City that I began to believe that even a city deserves a second verse, not just the people on planes and buses aimed for new lives. It deserves to be rebuilt stronger and smarter and safer.
Yes, New Orleans deserves a second verse. So too does the entire Gulf.
And the drunk driver, the widow, the widower, the neighbor, the wayward child, and you.
But only you can write it.
So what will yours sound like?