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Day 44: Rooftops

Our neighbour's rooftop

The headboard of our bed is positioned immediately in front of the smaller of the two windows in our bedroom. This morning as I was sitting in bed checking my emails on my laptop before getting going for the day I noticed the reflection of our neighbour’s rooftop starring back at me on my laptop screen. I stopped what I was doing and turned around to look at it more carefully.

I realised that even though this rooftop is one aspect of the view out this window I don’t normally take any notice of it. My vision is always focused on what lies beyond it.

I thought about the purpose of a roof. It plays such a major role in the overall structure and function of any dwelling yet how much time do we spend thinking about the roof! It is one of those things that is just there; when it does its job it is kind of invisible but when it no longer functions as it should you soon know about it. Isn’t this like so many things in life that we take for granted? Sometimes we even forget to maintain them and they become a problem faster than is necessary.

As I continued to look at this roof I was reminded of a unique event involving a rooftop and our friend Trevor Romain

The reading

I have written about a wonderful twelve year-old named Megan Stento before, but I was reminded of her yesterday and thought I’d share her story once more:

Megan was an amazing twelve-year-old girl who taught me how to turn feathers into wings.

I remember visiting Megan at the hospital one morning and telling her about a new book I had just written called “The Other Side Of the Invisible Fence”. (Which is unfortunately out of general circulation, but available on my web site.)

“I’m going to dedicate the book to you, I said.

“Thanks,” whispered Megan softly, with parched, dry lips. “That means a lot to me.”

Megan was a beautiful child with a smile that could reach across an entire room. The effects of chemotherapy and gruelling radiation sessions did not dampen her wonderful demeanour.

“As soon as the book comes out, I’ll read it to you,” I offered.

Megan said nothing for a few seconds. Then she said, “You’ll have to read real loud if I’m in heaven.”

She turned to me and smiled.

“I will.” I said. “If you die before this book comes out I’ll climb on the roof of my house and read so darn loud you’ll hear me all the way up there.”

Megan fought an incredible battle, but she was no match for the savage cancer that ripped her body apart from the inside out. She died only days after our conversation.

Megan’s mom Becky spoke to me after the funeral. “You are going to keep you promise to Megan aren’t you?”

“Of course I am,” I said, fighting back my tears.

Becky called me later that day and asked if the family could come over to my house when I climbed on the roof to read the book. She thought it would be a good memorial to Megan.

“Absolutely,” I told her.

“Becky called me the next day and asked if I wouldn’t mind very much if Megan’s class came to the reading on the roof.

“I would love that.” I told her.

A few days later the principal of the school called and asked if the entire school could come to the reading on the roof.

That’s when I said, “I don’t think it’s possible. My garden is too small.”

Well, that did not stop Becky Stento. By the next morning she had arranged for me to do the reading on the roof of the Laguna Gloria Art Museum here in Austin. The location was ideal. The two-story building had a flat roof with a deck on it and was surrounded by a beautifully manicured green lawn.

It rained the entire week before the reading and we were fearful that the reading might not take place. Then on the morning of the event, as I climbed the stairs to the roof, the sun came out and bathed the entire garden in a warm golden light.

Once on the roof I leaned on the little wall surrounding the deck and looked over the edge.

My heart stopped.

Sitting on the lawn on chairs and blankets were almost a thousand people. I still do not how so many of them heard about the event.

The entire crowd was completely silent. The only sound I heard was the chirping of happy birds in the woods surrounding the lawn and the occasional barking of a dog way off in the distance.

The silence touched me in ways I cannot describe.

I looked up into the sky…and read the book to Megan.

Source: Trevor Romain’s blog, The Reading, 6 April 2006. The original post was entitled Turning Feathers into Wings, 3 February 2005.

What a great way to start a day by being reminded that no matter how bad you may think things are for you, you can guarantee someone else is suffering far more. This isn’t a good thought but it is a sobering one. Life has also taught me that even through adversity beauty emerges if we allow ourselves to be open to it. It is so easy to forget this; I know I do all the time.

Knowing Trevor as I do I can see him on that rooftop. I can see him reading out his book and doing so with passion. I am pretty sure Megan would have been smiling as she listened.

Reading a book is not something I would have ever imagined doing on a rooftop but then again people who live in apartment complexes would probably not consider this so strange.

I wonder what the birds and other things that live up on our rooftops get up to up there. It is rather mind boggling once you starte thinking about it. Maybe it is better we don’t know.

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One Response to “Day 44: Rooftops”

  1. on 12 Dec 2012 at 8:22 am Kendall

    Megan was 10 not twelve!

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