I can’t believe it’s been 14 years since this article came out.

We were in a meeting with our management and somebody was talking about pitching stories to magazines and asked if anybody had any stories with heart in them because that’s what magazines were looking for. I just stared forward into space. I try to get involved in meetings, I really do. But they always seem to run long and my enthusiasm seems to wane before other people’s and I kind of zone out. Just send me an email instead.

But when I left that meeting I felt a tug on my spirit. The kind of tug that usually has God in the middle of it. I knew I had a story. I didn’t know if it had heart in it, but It definitely had pain. I figured if I could share it then it might encourage somebody else who’s going through pain. So I got out my cell phone and called my manager. This was 15 years ago so remember cell phones were enormous then and didn’t have color screens or internet or Twitter or games or anything but that’s another story.

I proceeded to tell my manager about all the stuff I went through in high school. About how I was hit by a truck my freshman year and my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer my sophomore year and then he died my junior year. I didn’t really remember my senior year too much.

Next thing I knew somebody from a magazine came out to our show in Rome, Georgia and did an extended interview. A story was written, and then they sent a photographer to our show in Chicago. I ended up being on the cover of Guideposts for Teens. I remember hating that picture – they wanted me to smile and if you know me you know that I’m not a smiler.

At the time it had been almost ten years since my dad died. What’s crazy to me is it’s now been almost 15 years since that article came out. Reading it now is hard because of the high school tone (remember it was written for that audience) but shining through was the fresh, raw, feeling of losing my dad. Nowadays I’ve kind of lost that feeling. Which is a good and a bad thing.

It’s good because most of that pain has faded. Not gone, just faded. For a while after I lost my dad it just felt kind of numb. And for a few years it was like a scab – everything was cool but if I bumped it things would get hurt and raw and bloody. Now it’s become part of my story, part of who I am.

But it’s bad because as that pain has faded, so have the memories. Memories that I had just thought I’d always carry with me. Now that I have kids of my own, I wish I could tell them more about their grandfather. They probably wouldn’t care so much now but one day they’ll want to know. So I just try to write down everything I can remember.

Which is why it’s good to hold on to articles like these.