last monday, in a bookstore.

on monday i came


with a teenage 

madeline, and madeline

at age 38. 

two different

people, different

from the madeline i'm 

raising right now. 

but the same. 

they were still 

living with what

madeline will be living

with the rest

of her life. 


teenage madeline stood

across the table

from me, 

holding a copy

of the thing 

i created for my madeline.

smiling, braces on

her teeth, 

i had no idea 

it was madeline

i was looking at,

10 or so years

in the future, 

until her dad


told me so.

she talked about

her life since

her mom died, 

her dad

and another woman

(her brookie?)

by her side

smiling proudly

as she talked

of sadness, happiness, 

and ultimately, survival.

i didn't know

what to say, 

staring back at our

future, hoping that

my madeline would

turn out as

well as the one

standing in front of me. 

i did the only

things i could 

think to do.

i thanked her, 

and told her that

when my madeline

is her age, 

i will be counting on

her to help

her through with 

words that will 

make her feel

not so alone

in this. 


38-year old madeline

came later, 

talking to me

first about 

her brother

(a friend of mine from college).

next, explaining how

her family came to be...

her mom died, 

years earlier, 

then everything that

happened later. 

unlike teenage madeline, 

there was no dad, 

no brookie standing

next to her.

she was an adult, 

still working

through it all.

like teenage madeline, 

38-year old madeline

talked of sadness, happiness, 

and ultimately, survival.

she handed me

something she was

working on, 

her way of continuing

the process of processing,

the start of something

that i hope 

my madeline writes

for me someday, 

to show me how

far we've come since

the day after she

was born

(and to prove there's another writer in the family).


i didn't imagine this.

it happened.

last monday.

in a bookstore

a few miles away

from where her

mother and i 

grew up. 

and as difficult 

as it was

to see future

madeline standing 

before me, 

two different times, 

two different ages, 

it made me feel better

about her future.


three year old madeline

was there, too.

later that evening,

she sat in my

lap, swiped the microphone, 

from me,

put it a little

too close to

her mouth 

and said, 

"daddy! daddy! tell me a story!"

i had finished

telling a room

full of people

the story that

happened to her, 

to us,

the one i had

written for her.

but she wanted to

hear something different.

so i made up

a story about

her and her

current favorite

cartoon characters. 

she laughed.

"more, daddy!"

yes, madeline.

more to come...

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