Monday, August 11, 2008

What will your second verse sound like?

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?


  1. I think your dad would be very proud of the man you are. You are an awesome, talented, and inspirational guy. You are doing what you truly love, and you have a great strong family who follows their beliefs. I know that I am a better person for knowing you, and I am truly grateful for the friendship that we share. As for my second verse, I'll have to work on that and get back to you!

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Your dad is very proud of you. He is up in Heaven and is telling all his new and old friends "That's my boy!" You have done an outstanding job with your second verse...remember, it's a long journey so have some patience and don't be too hard on yourself.

    My second verse...I believe it started the day I became a mom to my beautiful daughter in JiangXi China 2 1/2 years ago.... :0) I have to remind myself OFTEN though that this is a life-long journey and I'm moving from "Much-Afraid" to "Grace and Glory". (If you've never read Hinds Feet on High Places...I highly recommend it!)

    :0) Kim

  3. Excellent post. It's given me something to think on. I currently take care of my mom 24/7who is slowly leaving us. She's on dialysis 3 times a week, has a bad heart, etc. She tried to die on us in January, they brought her back and now it's just a "one day at a time" thing. She started getting very confused on June 1st. She's very entertaining, but at the same time it's sad to watch her slowly go. You have given me something to look forward 2nd verse and all it might hold in store for me. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the chorus that never ends!!! Thanks for something to new to think about!

  4. Kim, you might win the prize for most gorgeous second verse. Your daughter is adorable! And thanks for the kind words!

  5. Sandy, here's the great thing about second verses. We ALL get one, even your mother! I wonder if she'll keep writing it even after she's passed?

    Looks to me like your second verse sounds like love, charity, and sacrifice. Beautiful!

  6. Jason,
    I wasn't aware your dad died from Cancer or that he'd died. I guess that's why you can feel for me in what I've gone through with my Lymphoma. I'm now 22 months in remission. How long ago did your dad die and what type of Cancer did he have?


  7. Hi Jason,
    Loved your Golfing Story. My dad played golf and coached Golf for many years and I don't believe he ever saw a fox at the time he played. He did have the opportunity of playing at Augusta and we have a picture of him playing there.


  8. I have previously thought of it as starting over - again. But now I shall call it my next verse. I started over with 4 children after a divorce in a new community. Now I am starting a new verse by adopting a special needs child and hopefully heading off to BYUI next year at age 57. I have always wanted to attend university and I think there will be many exciting new verses to come. I appreciate your work. It is good to read something that entertains, uplifts and creates opportunities to see life in new perspectives. Thank you.

  9. Randa, you're a sweetheart. Thanks for that! And I am VERY curious to hear that second verse :)

  10. I think if your dad could see the- in the door after Peru- clip (I'm sure he can) he'd see all the "closeyoureyes!!! closeyoureyes!! thesnakeswayoutoftheegg!! hefellinthemagazinebasket!!! and the way he embraces the richness of life, he'd say "Well, someone is getting a little of their own!"

  11. Just stumbled on to you... what a beautiful post. My mom is in the midst of cancer treatment and I can identify to some degree with what you are saying. Thank heaven there are 2nd and 3rd and 4th verses and the sweetness and repetition of a chorus. Thanks-

  12. Cheryl, so true :)

    Jennifer, my very best to your mom. It's a brutal thing to experience... Keep in touch

  13. Jason.

    Its not about your own second verse; its about the second verse that you have provided to others through your writing and your heart. (Not that there is a great difference between the two)

    How many have started - or continued - their own second verses because of Christmas Jars alone? We'll never know for sure, but my guess is "bunches."

    As for me, without your wisdom and friendship, my second verse would have been very different.

    But the lesson that those of us who have been "Miracle'd." "Jar'd," and 'Letter'd," by you is not to focus on our own second verses, but how to support the second verse's of others.

  14. Thanks, Kerri! Very well said. That means a lot :)