In training to be tall and beautiful

My cousin Kati and I found a book while in college that bore the title, “I’m in training to be tall and beautiful”.  As neither of us were tall, that title resonated with us.  Though admittedly, Kati qualified for the title of “lovely” much more so than I.

I don’t feel beautiful, lovely, pretty, or even the slightest bit attractive most days.  And I understand that I’ve got a box of rocks that I’ve carried around with me since my toddler days that cause my face to contort and my demeanor to warp.

In cleaning out the attic, I found a bunch of papers and pictures that chronicle both the accumulation of the stones which burden me and the angels which guide and buffer me.  As I take each one from the dusty bed in which they lie, I wonder if a tall and beautiful woman would have jettisoned these souvenirs long ago.  Would someone with better  posture and fewer grey hairs, with stronger bones and a calmer disposition have felt the need to box these mementos and drag them from attic to attic?

Among the discoveries, I came upon a picture of my baby brother asleep with his infant daughter cradled against his shoulder.  As I took it from amidst the twenty-year-old bank records in which it had been inexplicably kept, I found myself gasping for breath.  Of all the people whom I wanted to save, Stephen looms the largest.  I know he chose his death; I know that I could not, truly, have stopped him.  But nonethless, I know I am still haunted by the thought that I might have helped.

A tall and beautiful woman might have known what to do.  Maybe.  So I’m in training to be tall and beautiful because I have failed too many people and my heart cannot take any more regret.

Stephen Patrick Corley with his daughter Chelsea Rae.  Another man did a marvelous job of raising Chelsea along with her mother. I know Steve was grateful to both of the for doing what he felt he could not.

Stephen Patrick Corley with one of his two daughters. Out of respect to her, I will not name her; but I know he loved her and missed her. I want to lay him to rest; I know his death haunts me and that my grief still weighs me down. Fare thee well, Stevie Pat. I love you more than words can tell.

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