My hunch is that no one will remember much of what I've said after they've seen the kids perform. That doesn't make it any easier to compose the speech.
The video portion of my presentation is completed, ten days before the event. Some of my slides were too grainy and small to be blown up to jumbo-tron size. Some of the pictures I wanted I just couldn't find. I keep forgetting to go down to the hospital and get my xrays. I wonder if I just didn't want to expose that much of myself before strangers.
It's an interesting conundrum, giving this talk. My story is full of hope and achievement.... at least I hope that it is. I know, though, that the audience will want to hear about holding the hand of a dying nine year old. I'm willing to tell them about it and I am willing myself not to cry while I'm doing so. It will be a challenge, to say the least.
I chose a photo of Christina-Taylor that I took the last time we went to the Reid Park Zoo.
She was too big to fit fully inside the dinosaur egg, but she was willing to give it a chance. She was beginning to let her bangs grow out, and you can see, if you look closely, that the hair is at that awkward length between being ready for a barrette and staying out of her eyes. When we went to see Gabby, just six weeks later, she had a bow holding them off her face. She was just on the cusp of so many things; a grown-up hairstyle was just one of them.
The challenge is to bring her to life without glorification, to describe the path I'm walking without pathos, to share the small accomplishments and larger struggles without seeking sympathy or, worse, pity. We were in the right place at the wrong time. I'm living with the consequences. Is that me being, as Sarah Garrecht Gassen coined it, forthright with a sometimes unsettling starkness? I don't want to shock, but I want to be real. I'm sad, but I'm not overwhelmed. I'm responsible but not guilty. These are the edges on which I teeter every day. How do I share them with strangers?
The little victories Pilates provides, the joy of sharing what I love with young people, the healing community (yes, there is such a thing) of professionals and fellow clients whose random "Look at how well you are walking" throw-away comment as I galumph by make my day - that's what I want to leave with them. Three take away's is what I learned before my BlogHer'11 panel presentation, and three take away's is what I'll provide.
Which ones? The personal: Tomorrow is not promised. The professional: The power of healing touch. The Systemic: We are in this together.
The more I think, the clearer it becomes. I wonder if they knew that their invitation was a form of therapy. I've been forced to clarify, to quantify, to examine and to conclude and today, I'll get to share.
For me, that's the best part.