Disclaimer: The characters of Twilight are owned by Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. Impact's plot and original characterizations are the intellectual property of Nise7465.
Hello everyone, it's been quite a while. I've got a few things to share with you. I'd love it if you'd take a minute and join me when you get to the end.
Alexa, this one's for you, baby. ;-)
Reflections, from a father to his son…
A million emotions washed over me as I stood before our family and friends, overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the day. There have only been a few times throughout my life where I've felt such an overwhelming sense of pride.
Each one of those occasions more monumental than the one before.
Today was no exception.
I don't think there are words that could describe the emotions I felt when you asked me to stand by your side, to act as your best man. You could have asked anyone else; that you chose me over any of your friends humbles me. Thank you.
The church was packed with our friends and loved ones, their faces filled with joy; hushed conversations a quiet buzz that seemed to blend somehow with the soft music being played, very much like the way these people have blended so effortlessly into the sound track of our lives.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and in our case, truer words have never been spoken.
The people in this room have all been here for us in one way or another through this amazing journey we call life.
Back when I first got hurt, I thought my life had ended and I'm embarrassed to admit there were days when I'd wished it had. My mom and pop were gone, everything I'd ever taken for granted had been stripped away, and I was left with an empty husk of my former life. It was a daily struggle to make sense of it.
But these people, this family of ours, filled me up with their love and encouragement, and in time I became whole again.
I don't know where I'd be now, had it not been for your Meme and Papa.
Watching them mill about amongst our friends makes me smile, I marvel at how gracefully they've aged. Meme is a beautiful reminder of what my own mother could have been; would have been, perhaps, if life had been kinder to us all. Your Papa, silver haired, but still sophisticated, gazes upon his beloved as if she's the only woman in the world; and for him, I know she is.
It's a rare gift to share a love like they do...
Like your mother and I do...
Like I know you and your girl will...
Meme and Papa sit in a place of honor next to Grandpa Charlie. Did I ever tell you how terrified I was of meeting him? I gave myself an hour long pep talk, and then I puked my guts out before I got to the house; but for your mother, I'd have done anything.
I get choked up thinking about the white rose that I know lies on the pew next to Charlie, the one symbolizing the place where your Nana Sue would be sitting, if she were still with us today.
I sure do miss her.
It might have been the others who made me whole, but she was the one who set my soul free. Years of therapy couldn't accomplish what she showed me in one weekend... Yes, bad things happen to good people, but just because I was the lone survivor from that day so long ago, didn't mean that I had to be the one who shouldered the blame.
Sometimes things in life just happen...
Behind them Jasper sits with his girls. Becca and Lisa, blonde and willowy, favor their aunt and their daddy. Not one of those kids favor Alice in appearance, but all three of them have her spunk and love of life. Off to my left Jackson stands with us, talking quietly with Guy. Their mother is in the church nursery with the others, primping and torturing your girl, I'm sure.
There was a time I wondered if Jazz and Alice would figure their shit out.
You'd never know they'd had a rocky start, to look at them now. Love's a funny thing, isn't it?
Maggie and Liam fill the end of their pew; Chaiya, Arun and Dara squeezed in between them. They'll both be retired before their brood ever gets out of high school, but they couldn't care less. Maggie was always such a nurturing soul. I feared she'd never know the joy of having a family of her own. Leave it to Liam to make sure that she did.
I remember when they came home from that first trip to Cambodia with Odum in their arms. He wasn't much bigger than you were at the time, despite your two year age difference. I think if he were still with us, I might be sitting next to your ma instead of standing here at your side. I can't believe he's been gone four years. Despite the strides we've made in AIDS treatment, the answers that could eradicate it are still just beyond our grasp. I hate that damned disease.
If we'd just had a little more time…
Your ma sure looked pretty this morning as she hurried around making sure everything was perfect. She was pretty the day we met, but she's only grown more beautiful, in the twenty-five years I've known her.
She's cried a million tears this weekend, but she's managing remarkably well and for that I'm thankful. She relies heavily on Alice now, to accomplish the things she can no longer do on her own. Every once in a while, the doctor in me still wants to rush in and tell her how to manage her disease, but she reminds me, in that not so subtle way of hers, that she's got things under control. I know that if she needs me to intervene, she'll ask. I think I'll always struggle with that.
Someone laughs from across the room, jarring me back into the here and now.
It's a boisterous group that fills the other half of the sanctuary and in some ways I find it hard to believe that you're marrying into their rambunctious family. But, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't seen this day coming nearly all of your life.
Her family... our family... sometimes it's hard to see the distinction.
Her aunts and uncles on her dad's side are scattered throughout the pews, their offspring all grown with kids of their own.
I frown when I gaze at the second row, missing friends I've known so long. Julie, bless her heart, fought her cancer so hard and for so long. She was only gone a few weeks when they found Emmett's dad. The McCartys sad story is proof positive that a man can succumb to a broken heart.
I can't imagine how I'd ever go on without your mom...
I say a silent prayer as I gaze at the two sprays of flowers on the altar, one symbolizing her absent grandparents and the other symbolizing yours. For just a moment, my eyes linger on the bouquet to the left, and I think of my mom and dad, how proud they'd be on this day.
I know they're here.
Do you feel them too?
The church fills with familiar faces, an endless sea of individuals who were all a party to shaping you into the man you are today; a favorite scout leader, beloved teacher, baseball coach...
I feel like a dinosaur as I recognize the young people that I'd often find scattered around our breakfast bar on a Saturday morning after a long and noisy night of scary movies. It's crazy seeing them all grown up, with families of their own.
Perhaps one day soon, you'll experience that, too. I can't even begin to tell you how it feels to hold your child for the very first time. It's like no other experience in the world. My heart felt like it would explode the day you were born.
There was a time when I didn't think any of that was for me- taking a wife, having a family. But from the moment I found out that you were going to be a part of our lives, I knew that you'd be the best thing that ever happened to us... and you were.
Without permission, I'm once again meandering down memory lane, reliving the most incredible moments of our past.
We're in Dr. Carder's tiny OB exam room- your heart beats, loud and strong, fill the room with the most precious music a parent could ever hear. That was the moment it finally sunk in- that we'd created the miracle of life.
I can't stop myself from reaching out to touch your tiny face the first time I saw you on that screen.
The awe filled expression on your mother's face when she first felt you move is something that I'll never forget; nor will I ever forget the overwhelming joy that filled my heart weeks later, when I finally felt it too.
I never understood the true meaning of the word labor until I helplessly watched your mother work to bring you into this world. The greatest gift she's ever given me was the honor of delivering my own son. You slipped, warm and healthy, into my awaiting fingers, our bond beginning before you ever drew your first breath.
I know so many guys who leave the baby-rearing to their wives. They've no idea what they're missing. So many nights you and I spent rocking or pacing the floor while I crunched numbers or ran formulas in my head, searching for the solution to that elusive equation that would keep your mom and people like her walking... and well.
To have you in my arms and know that my love was all you needed to be content… that's the stuff that dreams are made of.
I lived for the days I was able to stay home and play.
In a flash, I see myself flat on my back on the living room floor, your tiny head just inches from certain disaster. I'm screaming at the top of my lungs.
"Take him, take him..."
She walks into the room and gazes down, her hands on her hips.
"You boys have got to quit with the acrobatics before someone gets hurt. Perhaps we should buy the baby a crash helmet before you scramble his brains." She shakes her finger accusingly, but I can see her fighting a smile. She tests my endurance just a second longer before swooping your tiny body, giggling and squirming, from my shaky arms.
I know she's teasing, but I feel thoroughly chastised.
I'd die if I ever hurt you.
"We were sitting here doing raspberries." I explain. "I was okay until I got him up over my head and... well, we sort of got carried away."
"That backwards momentum gets ya every time," she teases. I hope she knows I'd never purposely put you in danger.
She tucks you under her arm like a football and begins walking towards the kitchen, never missing a beat. "You boys want some lunch?"
I work my elbows under my torso, reaching more than once for my chair before grasping the wheel and using it as an anchor to pull myself into a seated position.
She works to slip you into your chair, while I work to maneuver up into mine. She takes her time with your buckles and tray, not hovering over me, but nearby, just in case I get myself into a bind. She's always treated me with dignity, and that's one of the things I love most about her. It's a hard lesson to learn... wanting to swoop in and rescue your beloved, but knowing that they don't always need you to. It's an even more difficult lesson learning to know the difference.
A moment later we're in the garden, the yard's bursting with buds.
It's a chilly spring morning, and I'm rubbing my arms trying to keep warm while I watch your Meme pull those irritating squeaking sneakers onto your feet for the first time. She's over-the-moon excited with her incredible find, the one, she promises, will alert me to your where-abouts. All day long.
The raised beds I helped your Papa build are heaped with dark, rich soil just waiting to be planted. Working in a garden was new to me then and my scientist self was obsessed with analyzing everything- how much pH was in the soil, how much fertilizer the plants required...
You, on the other hand, were enthralled with things of a less technical nature- the ants that marched across the drive in a perfectly straight line, the worms that squiggled through the lawn, and finally making sure that everything, including your dad, got hosed down with plenty of water.
I'll never forget that ice cold blast, nor my momentary surge of anger, but it was your giggling laughter, interspersed with the retreating squeaks of those little shoes that melted my heart.
Just the day before, I'd learned one of my colleagues had lost his baby boy to leukemia.
They may have been the noisiest, most irritating things anyone ever invented, but the sounds of a happy, healthy baby running all over the yard, no matter how much noise he made, was another example of how truly blessed we were.
I keep them in my desk as a reminder to always be thankful.
It's a few years later and you tell me I'm your favorite super hero. I laugh and thank the heavens (and your mother, for planting that seed) that you see me as someone strong and powerful in your life, despite my limitations and I laugh some more when you climb into my lap and we race around the house, our red capes billowing out behind us.
"Faster, Daddy. Faster..."
Oh how the years rushed forward.
Faster than a speeding bullet...
It's your fourth birthday party, and a little blonde-haired wisp of a girl appears by your side.
The name couldn't be any more fitting for this little girl who is the epitome of everything that is sweet and innocent and good in this world.
She wasn't always able to be a part of our play group but the miracles of modern medicine made her heart well and her body healthy. She's still dainty and delicate, but she's one of the most precious children I've ever seen.
In no time at all you're inseparable. A part of me is almost jealous that I'm no longer the center of your universe, but I'm gifted a front row seat as your friendship blossoms and I watch with pride as you help her tie her shoe, slip your mittens over her tiny fingers to keep her warm, zipper her jacket before we go outside to play.
I smile as you pull her in the wagon, push her on the swing, walk with her tiny fingers woven between your own.
One day she falls and my heart smiles as I watch you wipe her tears, lead her into the house and open your miniature doctor kit. You stick a bandage on her hand and kiss it all better.
Always the little gentleman... always her protector.
I blink and it's a tear-filled first day of school. (My tears, not yours.) You were so grown up for your age. When I watched you race into that class room, full of wonder and excitement, I was certain you wouldn't need me any more, not with friends your own age.
The best part of that day was the way you threw your little body into my arms when I arrived to pick you up.
"Daddy, I missed you so much!"
I missed you too, buddy. So much more.
It wasn't long and you began testing your wings.
I knew there would come a day when I wasn't physically able to manage all the things a growing boy needed from a father figure and as you grew more independent, I could feel those old insecurities taunting me.
Do you remember the day we went to the zoo, just you and I?
I could tell you were tired by the droop of your shoulders, the way you dragged your little feet.
"Hey Mase? You look sleepy, buddy. Why don't you climb up on my lap?"
My heart hurt when you shook your head and answered, "I'm a big boy now, Daddy."
"Are you ready to go home?"
I could see the battle brewing behind your eyes. "I'm not that tired, Daddy. Could I sit on your footrest instead?"
We spent the rest of the afternoon riding around like that and by the time we got in the car, you'd found your second wind.
I looked down at the bottom of your shoes and groaned, the soles were as slick as a pair of Mary Janes. "Oh, buddy, your mom is gonna kill me. I think we better stop at the mall."
Just when I had resigned myself to the idea that our days of snuggling and cuddling were coming to an end, you crawled up onto my lap and looked up with those big, innocent hazel-colored eyes.
"I like this way better, Daddy."
Me too, kiddo, me too.
Please don't be in too much of a hurry to grow up.
Our schedules aren't always in sync, and I feel like a jerk if I can't make it to share one of your accomplishments. Parent teacher night, a chorus concert, school play... I strive to make them all. I don't ever want to be that dad, the one who never takes the time out of his day for his child.
To me, there's nothing more important.
You invite me to your classroom for the modern version of parental show and tell; a shiver of excitement runs through me when I wheel into your room.
I spent the entire weekend readying the school grade microscope you and I play with at home, thoroughly prepared with slides containing all sorts of interesting organisms for your friends to view. I'm so afraid I'll disappoint you. I know how different I am from the other dads and your classmates do too. Kids can be cruel and I worry; I don't ever want to be the reason someone picks on you.
You tell your class mates you want to be just like me when you grow up, and I picture you walking with a class of young doctors and scientists in your cap and gown until you set my presentation on the floor and I'm struck by your innocent devotion to who I truly am. I have to force down the lump in my throat when you crawl up into my lap and field questions about my disability.
You have no idea how much I've feared that my needs and limitations will somehow steal things from your childhood. But you tell them I'm just like every other dad, only I'm way cooler because of my special chair with all the bells and whistles, and the assistive technology we rely on every day at home.
I realize that day how enlightened you really are and I leave the school in awe.
You're my super hero.
The years continue to fly by with startling clarity...
Racing you through the park on your bike, and cheering you on when you pass me in my manual chair. You won fair and square that day, and while I've grudgingly accepted the fact that you're growing like crazy, it's so reassuring to see you so healthy and strong.
Do you remember learning to skate? You couldn't even see over the back of my chair, but you held on tight as we rolled around the block. I'll never forget the excitement in your voice when you yelled, "I'm gonna let go now, Dad."
I rolled into the grass and watched you speed by. I think I was as excited as you were.
Oh, Masen, these memories… nothing else begins to compare.
You've given me some of the very best days of my life.
Suddenly you're ten and an entire summer finds us at the lake; you and that little girl are inseparable- swinging in a hammock and skipping stones, roasting marshmallows and making s'mores, catching toads and chasing fireflies.
When those rocky adolescent years approach, you carry her books and defend her from bullies who tease because she's smaller, quieter, just a little more vulnerable than the rest of your peers...
You return in the fall- six inches taller with hair redder than mine, sporting braces and corrective lenses, and she's the spitfire who sticks up for you. I don't want to embarrass you, so I swallow back a laugh when I find out. But, nature vs. nurture be damned, she's Rose's daughter, through and through.
Your final years of school bring sports and formal dances. She's in the stands jumping around and yelling louder than your mother or me, and I wonder if you've figured it out yet- if you know that she's the one.
But then you come to me with your heart on your sleeve... "Everyone's asking her to prom, Dad, what should I do?"
"Ask her yourself, son. You know she'd never say no."
Despite the fact that you tower over me, I swear you look smaller than you have in years... "But what if she goes with someone else?"
It's written all over you face, you've discovered what I've known for some time.
Through all the seasons of your life, she's been your best friend, confidant, partner in crime. I know she'll always face challenges, but few young men are as prepared to face them with her and I can't imagine anyone I'd rather see you fall in love with.
The tempo of the music changes and that buzz of voices morphs into whispers of excitement.
It's almost time.
I know you feel it too.
I scan the pews, everyone has taken their place. The women of the family apparently done pestering your bride.
My eyes drift to where your mother is seated. The corners of her eyes crinkle and we share a knowing smile. She's been strolling down memory lane with me for days and I know she understands why I wasn't here, in the moment, when she made her entrance.
Her chair is folded at the end of the pew, but she won't be needing it today. I don't intend to let her out of my arms.
Across from her, Rose's face is a stormy sea of emotion. Always so confident and full of fire, it's almost amusing to see her looking so vulnerable, but I understand. Her baby's getting married today, too.
The organist begins playing something upbeat and light. One by one the attendants glide up the aisle and then everything seems to stop, but for the wall of a man who fills the entrance to the sanctuary and the delicate beauty on his arm.
I can almost hear your heart skip a beat when you get a glimpse of your bride for the first time, and I can't help but chuckle when you reach back and grab hold of my arm.
I hope she always makes you feel that way.
You look a little unsteady as she floats down the aisle and I wonder briefly if you need the support of my chair, but the tension is broken when she giggles and waves as she passes her mom and Tracy. You take a deep breath and stand proud and tall. I can feel the excitement radiating off you when her father places her hand in yours, formally entrusting his little girl to your care.
The ceremony runs smoothly and just when I think I'll make it through with my composure intact, you begin to recite your vows.
Your promises to always be by her side, to catch her if falls, to lift her up when she's feeling down, and to cherish her all the days of your life are a testament to your warm-hearted soul and I feel myself choking up, yet again.
But as I look out through misty eyes, I see I'm not alone. There won't be a dry eye in the place by the time you've both shared your endearing expressions of love for one another.
Your little lady enchants us all when she turns to her best girl and whispers in her ear. A moment later she's carefully rifling through her bouquet until she enthusiastically withdraws a slip of paper.
I chuckle at her enthusiasm, but have to wipe my eyes, when all wide-eyed and innocent, she slowly recites her own beautifully articulate vows of love, before confidently sliding that ring home on your finger and sealing it in place with a kiss.
She looks like a fairy-tale princess, dressed in a swirl of satin and lace, and you her prince charming, as you climb into the back of your grandparents Town Car for a ride around the city.
We've barely made it to the social hall and your father-in-law is leading the crowd in a rowdy cheer of congratulations, it's your first appearance as husband and wife.
You're just kids and those words seem so foreign on my tongue.
Husband and wife...
Mr. and Mrs.
The evening wears on and you haven't taken your eyes off your bride, so attentive to her needs. You laugh together and blush every time your audience demands that you kiss.
The father-daughter dance is beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time and my heart tugs for Emmett as I watch him wipe his eyes. In that moment I'm so relieved I don't have a little girl.
When it's time to dance with your mother, instead of making her leave the comfort of my lap, you climb on my wheelie bars and wrap your arms around us both. I thought I'd be okay until Bette Midler began to sing her rendition of that old song from my childhood, "Wind Beneath My Wings" and my composure completely crumbles. I'm in no shape to steer such a dangerous machine but you take over the joystick and oh-so-gently guide us around the room.
Couple by couple, your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends... join us on the floor.
With your bride in your arms, reverence and devotion is written across your face and I pray that you'll share a long and lasting love.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, my son.
Make the most of every moment and love her with all your heart.
A/N: Today is Memorial Day in the US. Just one day set aside out of 365 that commemorates the sacrifice of service men and women who have proudly defended our freedoms. I try to give thanks every day, because one doesn't seem like enough. If you are a service person or have a loved one who has served, thank you for your sacrifice.
Many of you know that my mother was my roll model for Impact's Bella.
She lived in our home and relied on my family for around the clock care. Updates and interactions with each of you ebbed and flowed based on the attention she required.
In May of last year her health began to decline and she spent a much of her time in and out of the hospital in the following months.
Eight weeks ago her sixty year battle with MS came to an end. I miss her sweet smile and compassionate heart. She was a stellar example of living life to its fullest, despite having limitations resulting from a physical disability. Caring for her was a blessing that I'll never regret.
Since life has finally settled down, I've had some time to go back and read each one of your reviews. So many came in while Mom was ill, my sincere apologies for not having time to read or respond.
I'd like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you who has supported Impact throughout the rewarding journey that began nearly five years ago. You've been so much more than readers and have become so much more than friends.
I've decided to make Impact accessible to a more mainstream audience, and in order to do so, I'll be taking the time to edit it and make appropriate changes so that I can offer it to my readers as a work of original fiction.
It will remain on this site, in its entirety until June 1, 2014, but then it will be taken down. Outtakes will continue to post as time permits. I appreciate your understanding and your patience.
The decision to remove Impact from the site where it's been available since 2010 is a bittersweet one, but it was your words of encouragement that have allowed me to believe Impact could be something more.
Updates on Impact's progress, as well as any other pertinent information can be found on my website.
The Impact blog is under re-construction, but will remain as an information and referral site for individuals with disabilities.
Links to each can be found in my profile.
Team Impact has begun working behind the scenes to help make this possible. I owe you ladies so, so much. Thank you.
Thank you for your comments, reviews and your words of support, but more importantly, I thank you for the precious investment of your time as you accompanied me on this journey. There aren't enough words to express my gratitude.