My apologies for the crude video quality, I tried to salvage what I could of the footage given to me.
September 1st, 2011 performance of my "This I Believe" essay, footage taken by Aaron Leach. Edited and compiled by myself, Alison Forsyth.
Copy of Essay:
I believe that a fish named Norm changed my life. I believe in making the most out of every moment, because in one second, everything can change.
It was a Sunday afternoon, in the heart of summer. The day previous, my beloved pet Norm, a bug-eyed, black Moor goldfish, had passed away. In an effort to console their four-year-old daughter, my parents and I headed to the pet store and bought Norm’s successor, Goldy. We planned a picnic to commemorate Norm’s departure. My dad had left early on his bicycle, intending to meet us at the picnic spot. Mom and I caught up with him in our blue Toyota Camry on the way. As we passed him pedaling on the side of the road, I waved. Smiled and waved. Turning to my mom, I said “Mommy! Daddy doesn’t have his helmet!” Driving ahead, we waited at the next turn out. Moments later, we heard sirens.
Norm was a good fish. I don’t blame him for anything. I just wish he hadn’t died.
My dad died on September 2nd, 1998, from head trauma. He’d been hit by a car, shortly after we’d passed him on the highway. He remained in a coma for a month until he was taken off life support.
There’s no handbook for handling grief. No matter what age, what situation, when you lose a loved one, a part of you dies along with them. Like an arm that’s been amputated, you experience a phantom of that limb. Whereas in reality, it’s gone and never coming back.
I’ve been struggling with how to end this. There are no magical words I can summon that will expose my heart to you. Fortunately, someone already spoken them.
Prior to my parents' engagement, my dad left on a 45-day journey to backpack alone through Europe. Many years later, I followed in his footsteps freshman year when I travelled abroad to Scotland. During his travels, he wrote regularly in a journal. In reading it, I discovered it was not as much of an itinerary as it was a giant love letter to my mom. In it, he writes:
“What impressed me is how alive I am. Flowers, waves, clouds, everything is so alive... I am only sad you are not here with me so we can touch a star together. Soon we will be laughing and we may forget the deep loneliness we feel when we are separated. But I don’t think we will ever take our minutes together for granted.”
"Dear Mary, I can’t hold on to be with you. Below me is the top of the world, I want to take your hand like Peter Pan and fly you where ever you want to go. I want others to look at our love and ask “what is is like?” and we answer - take nothing for granted.”