Necessary context: this was originally written on the night on Monday, October 23, 2017, and is unchanged from the original. I’d written most of it when I got the news from Oregon that my half-brother and sister-in-law welcomed a daughter the previous Thursday night - as it happens, after I’d arrived in central New York, and was catching up at the Ithaca Ale House. It was a total shock to both me and my brother - neither of us had any idea this kid was coming!
Anyway, on with these now six month old words... and SCREW BU, LET'S GO RED!!
For the past few days, you've come along on a wonderful trip through an amazing slice of my past - a slice that gets deeper and more meaningful with each trip back to the foot of Cayuga Lake. Some of you lived it - and your own good old days on the Hill - through my words and photos here. I'll add to those with one thought I posted elsewhere: "at postgame, it’s not how many notes you remember correctly - it’s all about the passion & memories the notes inspire." And some of you lived it just as I did - by reconnecting and connecting anew, forging and strengthening bonds that will resonate and reverberate through the years. They're bonds that will give each of us, the Big Red Bands, and Cornell University the power to stand upon an unshakable shared foundation, and the flexibility to grow and adapt with changing times.
But - and especially on this night, the night I learned I've become an uncle for the first time - there's one more moment I have to enter into the record. It happened back in my hotel on Friday night, after so much was so greatly said and done at Bonehouse. Those who know me at least fairly well - certainly those who've played trivia with me - know that my mind is capable of pulling deep. And in that post-two o'clock in the morning reverie, it pulled a quote from "Miracle" - "because we're a family..."
... and I totally lost it. Absolutely broke down in tears.
It's not just a family I'd want to go to Lake Placid with - it's a family I'd want to go with to Vladivostok or any other end of the earth. It's a family that three years ago, when my childhood home and my mother were taken from me in one fell swoop, stepped up and shared that burden with me, without asking for a thing in return... and when I wondered whether to share it with them, reminded me in no uncertain terms - now more than ever, tell the bones. And I know I'm not the only one who has been so warmly embraced in such a dark hour. Toby, we still miss you. Owen and Hannah too, both of whom I feel poorer for not having introduced myself when I surely had the chance.
Let me try to shift this to a happier note by channeling one of our fictional own, President Thomas A. Kirkman.
Cornell is not simply a university, nor is it the sum of seven colleges. It's an idea. A bold and righteous idea... any person, any study. And just the same as those who break new ground in research, and those who don our colors and take the playing surfaces... those who raise their instruments and don the same carnelian and white do so much to lift that chorus, and speed it onward.
It shall always be the regret of my life that my own actions and choices did not get me to the finish line - did not enable me to earn that Cornell degree. But it has been - and ever shall be - the honor of my life to count you as my friends. That honor is worth more than any piece of sheepskin, and it's a privilege to pay back a little bit of that worth each spring when the time comes, and each fall when I point my car toward where the compass of my heart tells me north is.
Whether I see you next month, next year, or further on in the future - and whether it's near me, near you, or back at our castle on the Hill - may the blessings of Ezra and Andrew forever fall upon you and yours.
Far above... hail, all hail, and love to thee.