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The Fisher of Stories


Sometimes an event happens that inspires a blog. Sometimes it’s a collection of events, and you never know when inspiration will rise, kicking and clawing its way to the surface of your mind, demanding attention, wanting to be released. In that instance, you have choices. You can choose to stifle the inspiration, and eventually it will consume your thoughts, hindering your creativity, and rendering your writing useless. This blog has been a long time coming. ***
It doesn’t happen often, and certainly not often enough, and perhaps that is what makes it special. Maybe if it happened everyday I wouldn’t appreciate it for what it was, just a dad and his daughter, riding somewhere together.

It’s not about where we’ve left from, and it’s not about where we’re going. It’s about all those moments in between.

Watching you get in. That’s my favorite part.
My truck sits high off the ground, and you have to almost jump to get in. I’m not always a perfect gentleman, I have to confess. I don’t always open the door for you like I should, to teach you that when you’re older, you have to fall in love with a boy who does that. I just like watching you as you clamber clumsily into the cab. You aren’t very graceful, but I think one day you will be.

You get buckled up, I get buckled up, and we take off. You’re smiling. It never takes long, and the question always comes.
“Dad, can you turn on the music?”
I do. I always do.
You always sing along. It doesn’t matter if you know the words or not. You still sing. I will give you an example, using Taylor Swift’s “Mine” as an example.
You don’t really know the words, not all of them, and so it sounds something like this:
“You were in college hmm hmm ahhh haaa mmmhmmm,Left a hmm mmm ahh haahmm ahhh.”
But then the chorus comes, and suddenly, you’re on a stage, you’re in your element, and your voice rises with the power of the knowledge of the words.
I have another confession, daughter. 
Sometimes I put on songs I know you’ll sing to. 
My mind, in its ceaseless recollection of trivial information and recurring moments, flashes back to something very important in my life. 
I sat at home the night before making the drive to pick you and your brother up. I was trying to think of ways to introduce you to our great big family before you actually met them, and I decided to make a picture slideshow on my iPad for you both to watch. 
I placed pictures in order and captioned them, and then I set it all to the music of “Guinevere,” by the Eli Young Band. 
On the way home from Watonga, you watched that video a hundred times. At some point, you figured out the words to the song, and you belted them out ceaselessly. Then you serenaded us with Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts,” which was the only other song I had on the iPad. 
You were gorgeous. You were amazing. And you still are.
Listening to you sing, that’s my favorite part. 
Inevitably, your interest in singing wanes, and you start talking to me. Sometimes the craziest things come out of your mouth. Last night, for example, you counted Christmas trees. Then you started spotting cars that looked like your mom’s. 
Sometimes we talk about stuff as normal as how your day was, and then there are times such as the other night when you wanted me to explain to you what nihilism was. After telling you my best guess of a definition, you responded promptly.
“Well, I believe in Jesus.”
I know you do, darling. And nothing makes me happier.
You always ask for gum. For the last six months, I’ve kept a pack in my truck just for you and your brother.
You smack your gum. Loud.
Which brings us yet to another confession, dear daughter. If anyone else in my truck smacked their gum as loudly as you, I would pry open their jaws, rip the gum from their mouth, and toss it out the window. But you, you’re different. I guess it’s cute…for now.
Talking to you, that’s my favorite part.
You want to hear something crazy?
My truck has a sensor in the passenger seat that measures weight, and turns the airbag off automatically when someone doesn’t weigh enough. A little light in the center of the console indicates when the sensor has been triggered and the airbag is off.
When we first got you and your brother, that light was always on.
“Passenger Airbag Off”
Now? Now that little light flickers when you sit in the seat. Sometimes it’s on, sometimes it’s off. It’s not broken.
You’re getting bigger. You see, that light is an indicator in more ways than one. You’re older, bigger, smarter.
But it also tells me something else.
One day, you’ll stop riding in my truck. Instead, you’ll get a car of your own, and maybe you’ll start riding in trucks with other boys. It is just as inevitable as you singing, and just as inevitable as all of our wonderful trips together have to come to end when we get to our destination.
You unbuckle and slide out of the truck awkwardly, hanging on to the door handle for dear life. Your feet land on the ground, and your little blond head disappears into the house.
Watching you get out, that’s the worst part.
To end this, I think I’ll borrow another line from Miss Swift, one that happens to be in the same song as previously mentioned, and a line that I have definitely memorized.
“You are the best thing, that’s ever been mine.” 
Disclaimer: When you tell a story often enough, a lot of times you can pick out the high points, the funny parts, and the lines that make people gasp, and sensationalize those moments so that they have an even bigger effect on your audience. The story I’m about to tell you has no doubt been told a lot, and when it was told to me was probably modified slightly to emphasize the “high points.” Please understand that before reading. 

It constantly amazes me how I am placed in situations where I meet new and interesting people. In fact, one of the things I’ve learned is that when you just open up to someone, ask them their name, and be genuinely interested in what they have to say, you’ll usually be blown away by their story. Last night, that happened.

It started as a night just hanging out with Kid Funk. We had some sushi, a couple of beers, and then we went back to the hotel he was staying at to hop in the hot tub. I feel like I should add that this was a completely hetero-sexual event.

There was a couple in the hot tub when we got in, and they had four children running around in the kiddie pool. At first I couldn’t get my mind off how lame that was, because kids around a pool are usually absolutely retarded, and they yell and scream and try to just generally ruin your relaxing in a hot tub. I pressed on, however, and was soon relaxing very peacefully.

That wasn’t good enough for me though, so I started talking to the couple. I asked where they were from, and they said Shawnee, Oklahoma. Just as I was about to ask why in the world they would be staying in a hotel 50 miles from where they lived, they told me. The man explained to me that the Make-A-Wish Foundation was putting them up in the hotel, and that tomorrow night, their daughter was going to meet Taylor Swift as her wish.

When I hear “Make-A-Wish Foundation,” I immediately think that someone is going to die. When I saw the girl, she appeared to be about 10 or 11, and I soon found out that not only was she 7, she was also over five feet tall! The mood in the hot tub changed from introductory to somber in a hurry, as the parents explained that she had cancer, but was in remission.

Since my dad was diagnosed with cancer back in 2000, cancer has become general to me. When I hear the adjectives before the type of cancer it is, I just sort of block them out. I know what killed my dad was Carcinoma, and all I heard from the woman explaining things to us was Leukemia. Then she went on to tell a story that inspired this blog post, and also made me think about how blessed we can be if we’ll only see it.

The girl’s name is Brianna. I’m not sure about the spelling. As near as I can piece together, Brianna was having some growth spurts, and started to have pain in her knees. A routine check-up by a doctor revealed the worst possible thing a parent can hear about their child. It was Leukemia. They immediately started chemotherapy, and they put her through a solid month of that. Folks, I watched my dad go through chemotherapy, and I’m here to tell you, it was no picnic. It destroyed him, and he was beast. I can’t even imagine what it did to a  7 year old girl who weighed maybe 70 pounds. Added to this burden were over 30 spinal taps and other invasive tests.

The mom went on to explain how they had her tested at the end of the thirty days, and that seventy percent of the cells in Brianna’s body were still infected. The doctor said that they would wait a week, then test again, then they would talk about surgeries, stronger chemotherapy, and survival chances.

Around this point in her story, the mom looked over and said, “Hey! Get off of that!” She was talking to Brianna, who had somehow managed to climb onto the outside of a water slide, and was busily making her way to the top. Her bobbed haircut and pink swimsuit made her out to be as cute as a button, even though I recognized that haircut was one of someone who was trying to grow their hair back out after radiation had caused them to lose it all in the first place.

Then the mother continued. She explained that the day of the testing, Brianna had walked in to the kitchen and boldly exclaimed that she had talked to God the night before. She went on to explain that she had told God she wanted to get better. She said that she told God she wanted to be better today, tomorrow, and every day. The mother, admitting herself that she was not a particularly religious person, had a bit of trouble digesting all of this.

From here, I’m sure you can guess what happened, because it’s that kind of story. If we’re not careful, we can even make it out to be anti-climatic, completely destroying the incredible miracle that took place. They went to the doctor, submitted Brianna to a battery of tests, and she came back negative. That seventy percent count from a week before had been reduced to zero. She was, in essence, cured.

The doctor explained that he had never seen or read anything like it, and told them that with this particular kind of cancer, the chance of it coming back was less than one percent. She has to have check-ups frequently, and I’m sure there will be more tests over the years that won’t be enjoyable. However, she’s cured.

Tonight Brianna gets to meet Taylor Swift, and she’s taking her best friend with her. I can tell you that this completely upset my youngest brother, who wishes Brianna was taking him instead. I’ll admit that I’m a little jealous of her myself. I guess this Make-A-Wish thing was set up before she was cured, and I’m sure you can’t just take something like that away from a young girl when a miracle happens.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be praying for Brianna. As a matter of fact, I’m sure she’ll cross my mind every time I hear a Taylor Swift song for a long time. I know that sometimes the nature of my spiritual life on this blog can seem incredibly dichotomous, and I know that there will be times in the future where I’m labeled a hypocrite, but all the glory in the world has to be given to God here. He is the author of miracles, the conductor of healing, and the kind of guy who puts you in a hot tub on a Tuesday night with a couple of people who are harboring a story like this one.

In the off chance Taylor reads this, I’d just like to tell her how lucky she is to get to meet Brianna and her family. Also, I have to tell her that my brother says hi.