It might seem like a bold statement, but in this case, it is undeniably true. And yes, I have had some pretty big events over the years...but this is really that big. On December 15th, I will see my daughter Ronni. Now that might not seem like much to some, but this is the first time we have seen each other in 16 years. In fact, 16 years to the day. The last time I saw my little girl was on her second birthday.
She will be arriving here in Portland from Missouri around 5PM on the same day that I will be having a book signing for the release of the fifth DEAD book. So after the signing, I will go home and pace for a couple of hours and then drive out to the airport to pick her up. Besides being the biggest day, it will also be the most terrifying. A lot has happened in my life. All of which she and I have talked about, but never face-to-face. Plus, let's face it...16 years has passed. I am a stranger to my daughter. My attachment to her is--and always has--been there. But who am I? What if she if less than thrilled with me? Between me and you...I am scared to death.
So, the plan was to follow this up and make the announcement of our December giveaway. It doesn't work for me. I can't talk about something like this that is real and actually matters, and then follow it up with some sort of Barnum and Bailey, "Step right up!" pitch. Try back tomorrow for that if you are interested.
This is really a huge life event for me. "So why are you talking about it here?" Some of the more jaded in the crowd might ask. Because, I know that my daughter doesn't read my blog. She has a few of my books, and is aware that May December Publications is named because of hers and her two brothers' birthdays. So she has at least some idea that she has always been on my mind. But you know kids...they don't usually get stuff until they are older. Somewhere in the universe, these little bits of code that carry this blog will always exist. She will see it one day and maybe then it will be an epiphany.
The other reason is that I am a writer. This is how I process things. Writing is my therapy. When I was flying from Seattle to Sacramento every weekend, and then renting a car and driving to Modesto just to spend two hours with her on Saturday and Sunday, often working a shift (I was a waiter in a very expensive restaurant in Seattle at the time) just before I left, and then having to be back to work that Sunday night...I wrote about it. When I was in a custody dispute, I was actually asked by a paper in Hurricane, West Virginia to write a column about it.
The above picture was taken on one of those visits. I still remember everything about that moment. We were walking to a park that was just down from her grandmother's house. It was hot. The type of heat that only exists in places like Modesto, California in August. I had about an hour left before I had to go. Ronni wanted to go to the swings. Her grandmother told me to take her. It was the first time that she and I would ever do something just the two of us.
I was holding her hand and she was babbling on about the grass and some ants on the sidewalk and a dog that would not stop barking. We went to the park and I pushed her on the swings for a while. It was absolute magic. When it came time to go, she asked me to pick her up. "Up, daddy." I almost had tears in my eyes. As we walked back, she was a steady source of chatter. I didn't understand hardly a word. But she could babble. I was so overwhelmed, I told her, "Daddy loves you, Ronni."She giggled and said "Love you, daddy." She did it just as I was holding up my Cannon Sure Shot to take our picture.
In a couple of weeks, I hope that I have some new pictures..new memories.