For some months, I wondered whether I would be able to attend the “Our Voices Our Stories” CSA conference in Niagara Falls from October 21-23, 2022. Covid presented me with a huge road block. I have never vacillated on anything so much as I did over this. I was in constant contact with CSA Board Member Catherine by email, one day saying one thing, another day saying the exact opposite. It was only a week before the conference that I made the decision that it was a Go. For me, but not for my beloved wife Anne.
When my rush hour survival trip down the QEW, on Friday October 21 2022, ended after two hours when only one should have been sufficient, I made the decision to head out and meet a few new people. It was about 7:30pm. The CSA signs were ubiquitous. So much so, I had no idea where to go, which arrow to follow. Almost as if they contradicted one another. First I found myself up on the 5th floor. I checked out all the rooms. Nothing. Off I went searching, this time on the ground floor. More rooms. Still nothing. Surely there must be some place to register. I can’t believe registration has closed for the night. Of course stupid me didn’t bring a copy of the program with me. Finally someone pointed me in the direction of the Hard Rock café.
I walked in and Carol immediately came up to warmly greet me. Loud music, my hearing aids, and her soft voice were hardly conducive to being able to carry on a conversation. I soon asked if Eeva, CSA National Coordinator, was here. Not only had I never met a single soul who would be here for the weekend, I had never face to face met Eeva either. We had conversed on Facetime, email and by phone but that was it. Carol went and told her I was here. Eeva, gracious as ever, came over and gave me a big hug. More than once she said it was a great honour for her that I had come. I felt embarrassed. She had it backwards. The great honour was for me to finally find myself in the presence of so many of my fellow travellers.
With Eeva, I immediately raised one of my main reasons for coming to this conference. I told her that for a very long time I had wondered whether it was appropriate to openly and directly ask a person who stuttered about their stuttering. “Of course you can,” was her answer. Boy I wish I had known, because for years I was afraid to ask my friend Jim, who stuttered badly, about his very obvious problem. I greatly regret now not doing so, before he got so sick that the real conversation on the subject was no longer possible. I thought it would be rude to ask him about something, that if he had wanted to talk to me about it, he was free to do so. And since he didn’t raise the subject, then I felt it would be inappropriate, even rude, for me to do so either. So I was forever stuck.
Without Eeva’s permission in my back pocket, I never would have embarked down this road at the conference, because I was well aware that there are two very opposite possible responses. One is “I’m glad you asked...” The second is “That’s none of your bloody business. And how dare you, a person whom I have never met, ask me a question like that.” Ah well, like so much about stuttering, it seems to be: “on the one hand...” and “on the other hand” where the “other hand” is the exact opposite. So I knew if I was going to ask a person whom I had never met this question, I was well aware that I was going to be leading with my chin. Off I went anyway hoping for the best.
As our conversation wound down, I asked Eeva to introduce me to Catherine, as I wanted to speak with the lady to whom I had given so much grief with my contradictory emails. For a very brief moment, I didn’t realize that Catherine stuttered, as three of us went back and forth chatting with one another. Then after a few more minutes, Eeva had other responsibilities she had to attend to, and she was off. So I decided to sit down at the end of the table where Catherine was sitting, wearing my N-95 mask as always, to interact with Catherine who was now sitting kitty corner to me.
What occurred next was one of the most amazing hours of my life. Now, before coming to this conference, Anne asked me if I was going to be ok with persons stuttering when speaking with me. She of course, like so many others, has zero experience with people stuttering. “That my dear is not something I’m worried about in the least.” But beyond that, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect emotionally within me at the convention. I sensed, I was going as a “tabula rasa”, or “a blank slate”. Also, before coming to the conference, I said to myself it is only going to work if I attend as a “wallflower”—a word which is really an oxymoron for me in such an emotional context. I did this, in part, because the last thing anyone wants is for some new guy showing up, speaking when not asked, and otherwise coming across as a jerk. But I had an even more important reason for wanting to be a wallflower. You see, what I really wanted to do was to listen to people tell their personal stories about their stuttering. And then I intended to follow up with some quiet reflections a day or two later on what had occurred. The subject matter at that later time would be to discover both what I had been feeling while at the convention; and what I had heard from my fellow travellers there. On both topics, I had zero idea what to expect. I was truly a blank slate.
So for an hour, I listened intently to Catherine. I picked up immediately that, most of all, she wanted an opportunity to express herself, and that the worst thing I could do was to supply the word she was having difficulty expressing or otherwise interrupt her. So that’s generally how we interacted. However I did ask a few questions along the way. I learned she had an masters degree in Physics from the University of Toronto, and another masters from USC in LA in computer sciences. She worked at NASA mapping clouds, not in regard to daily weather forecasts, but to learn what they had to say about climate change. Or something like that. She was obviously a very intelligent person. It really is sad that intelligence and logic have so little to do with being able to resolve personal stuttering problems. Or our world would be a lot easier.
Now with Eeva’s permission, I also asked Catherine about her stuttering. I put the question this way. “How has stuttering affected your life Catherine?” She had no reluctance in identifying some of the various ways it had for her. I sense there are 3 ways to ask someone about their stuttering. This was one of them. The better one though, really would have been “What words do you emotionally associate with (your) stuttering?” I mean that really would have gotten the conversation heading in the most positive direction possible. Nina put 7 such words up on the screen on Saturday morning. The third, and absolutely the worst, way would have been to simply ask “How do you feel about (your) stuttering?” That’s fine in other circumstances. So for example to ask a recent widow or widower “how do you feel about now having to live alone?” might just be fine. But to ask someone “How do you feel about your stuttering?” might be a good way to get my face slapped. Because “What the hell do you think I feel about stuttering. It’s just bloody awful...” is a realistic possible response.
I also asked Catherine the question I told Eeva that always causes me so much difficulty: Is it ok to ask someone about their stuttering? Catherine’s answer was profound. She thought for some moments and then finally replied, “No one size fits all.” To which I responded, “You know Catherine, I find myself coming to that same conclusion.” But, as I say, most of our time together was spent with her expressing herself without interruption and me listening and taking it all in. It was truly an unforgettable hour. It flew by in seconds for me. I never once looked at my watch. After an hour, I looked around and much to my surprise, I found Catherine and I were virtually the last persons in the pub. Everyone else seemed to have disappeared without our knowing it. I said I would come to her presentation tomorrow, but that I also wanted to monitor another presentation which occurred at the same time.
I’m a restless sleeper now. I sleep for a few hours, I’m up for a couple of hours, and then I sleep some more. That works very well for me. After a few hours of sleep on Friday night, when I woke up, I soon found myself in tears. Not bawling or anything like that, but feeling forever on the edge, with a tear or two dripping down. I couldn’t believe it. Especially when it went on and on and on. Now these weren’t the usual tears of sadness or pain, these were overwhelming feelings of wonderful consolation, of near ecstasy. I had no idea at all why this was happening. I got dressed and exited my Siberian gulag closet of a room without any flat surfaces to put any of my things on, and went and sat in the Front Lobby of the hotel for well over 2 hours, sipping on a cup of room made coffee. The security guys wondered what I was doing. They soon became my ‘friends’. But that has been the norm on my travels for decades. Anyway, I didn’t stop to try and analyze these wonderful feelings, because one of my strategies of dealing with intense feelings, for many years now, has been to simply shut up and feel. “Just feel what you are feeling Don, and then a day or two later you can stop and figure out exactly what it was you were feeling.” So instead of analyzing, I just let more periodic tears fall as they may, while revelling in being able to feel more exquisite consolation, hoping the security guys didn’t see what was going on with me.
The next morning, Saturday, I realized it was now time to get out of the rut of being an introvert. Being retired makes being introverted with others really easy. Especially when all I really want to do is to be with Anne. Now there was a time in my life when I was completely uncertain as to whether I was an introvert or an extrovert. To be in business required me to be a bit of an extrovert. Or I would have starved. But I was at a loss as to which I truly was, until I asked an intuitive priest friend of mine to explain the difference between the two. He told me “Someone who, when he gets really tired, decides to deal with it, by going out to be with more and more people, is an extrovert. Someone who, when he gets really tired, decides to deal with it, by taking time away from everyone and being off by himself, is an introvert.” Finally, after all these years, with that explanation, I had my answer: I was an introvert. Because I certainly was not an extrovert, by that definition. So anyway I decided it was time to be an extrovert again, this time a gentle calm extrovert, without all the “how’s it going man” back slapping stuff etc. So in a gathering where I didn’t know a soul, I went up to several people in the registration area and introduced myself. I was able to have a few moments with each. But what was nice about it was that it wasn’t about Blue Jays baseball talk; or elevator talk; it was about stuff that was really relevant that really mattered.
Then it was time for Nina G’s keynote speech. For Covid reasons, I decided to sit away off on the sides away from everyone. The problem was, I discovered I could barely hear what Nina was saying. I heard words 4 only, not concepts. But I did hear her stuttering. Several times. Now when she placed on the big screen the words or feelings she appeared to associate with stuttering. I was immediately positively struck with 6 of the 7 feelings which she chose, especially shame and isolation. Not so much with “denial”, as I wasn’t sure what that word meant in a stuttering context. I mean how can one feel both shame and denial at the same time? But what really hit me hard was whenever she stuttered, I started to tear up again. This happened several times. Again and again. Over and over. I just couldn’t believe what was happening to me. This was the last thing I had expected in coming to this conference. And when it was time for questions, almost all the questioners stuttered too. Each time they stuttered, I again teared up, feeling the same wonderful consolation that I had experienced in the middle of the night. I mean, things were starting to get pretty crazy now. None of this made any sense to me at all. Yet at the same time, the tabula rasa was starting to reveal a stunning picture.
After the break I decided to attend the ‘Meet the Authors’ Panel moderated by Carla, CSA Board Member and Speech Language Pathologist Liason, in the Elizabeth Room. But first, when I realized how freezing cold it was in this room too, I decided to return to my frigid room and put on a ton of extra clothes, including a baseball cap, to warm up. I did not regret it. Now really the last place I wanted to be was at a session where authors talked about their books. For me, this wasn’t the time to hear about what authors had written. What I wanted was to simply meet and hear my fellow travellers on their own terms. To listen to what they had to say about their journey. The program blurb seemed to suggest that indeed the authors would also speak about their own stuttering journey. So that really caught my attention. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. So I went. And that’s exactly what happened, after some initial comments about their books, which I tuned out. Listening intently to the journeys of Daniele Rossi, Ryan Cowley and Mary Wood was a very rewarding experience. This time I didn’t tear up when they stuttered, or as in Mary’s case when she did not. I just let whatever they were saying, and how they were saying it, wash over me. Now this time I sat right up at the front, determined to be able to hear what was being said. I repeated that again during the three afternoon sessions I attended or monitored. I must say I was shocked that only one other attendee to the conference attended this particular session, as it turned out to be an excellent session with lots of emotional honesty from the three authors. A lot of conference attendees missed out on a truly great session. It wasn’t just about their books. Afterwards I bought two, the first two books I have ever read or bought on the subject of stuttering.
After this, the second and last morning session, I took off to have a nap. I had intended to wake up after an hour. Unfortunately I slept for an hour and a half. As a result I wound up walking in on another Carla run session in the same Elizabeth room, right in the middle of it, half way through. Again I walked up right to the front of the room, somewhat intrusively sitting down right in the front row. From there, I was able to hear perfectly. But there had been a dramatic inner change in me now. I found I had lost my focus when it came to listening. I could not focus intensely the way I had been able to do with the three authors before lunch. And so it was, for me, for much of the rest of the afternoon. But David Stones was an exception. When I heard David Stones say, just as he was sitting down, that he had tried to stutter but had failed, I couldn’t help myself say “maybe that’s why you didn’t stutter.” I kicked myself for getting involved like that. Later I wondered if anyone had ever tried that as a “trick” to avoid stuttering. And what success they had with it.
Now it was time to hurry up to the 5th floor. I intended to split my time between 2 presentations. The first was with Samuel Dunsiger. I listened with interest when he spoke about his own experiences with stuttering. Then it was time for him to switch gears and teach us something about improv or improvisation. To me, improv sounded an awful like something called “psychodrama”. Some spontaneous hit and miss feeling stuff seemed like a great idea, but I wasn’t into that today. I came to listen to speakers. So when he offered any of us a chance to leave now before his starting into improv, I took him up on it, mostly because I had promised Catherine I would see her at her presentation. Which I did. Again, I charged up to get a seat right at the front. And for the rest of the hour, I sat and let what Catherine was saying wash over me. This time I asked her no questions, having asked enough of them the night before.
Then it was an hour with Bhavna Bakshi. Now this was really something. Her presentation “Strut your Stut Stut” was aptly named. This Indian Chick rhythmically strutted around the stage. I kept fearing she would go down in a heap—which would have been one awful mess—because there were wires on the floor haphazardly spread about. And my feet, in the front row were a danger to her as well, so I had to keep drawing them back when she came near them. Fortunately, this lithe young woman had no problems navigating these lurking dangers.
I had intended to go to Open Mic next, but at the last moment I found I really now did not have anything left in the tank, so I went back to my room and stayed there until dinner.
The Banquet Dinner had always been the one event I thought I could not attend. Covid again. But I came up with a solution which allowed me to attend. I arranged to sit in one of the unused tables for 6 and sat off by myself. I’m sure some of you thought I was being unsociable. But that wasn’t it at all. I just couldn’t afford to bring Covid back to Anne, as result of having to take off my mask to eat. By now I was starting to recharge back up a bit again. I had another chance to be with Catherine for a moment. And I had a few lovely final moments with Eeva. My dinner was very good. And in the context of feeding so many people at the same time, it was excellent. On my way out, I couldn’t resist giving Catherine a hug.
l left and slept for a few hours before heading home to Burlington. Before heading out, I went to visit the edge of the Falls. It was just as scary to watch the water roar over the top to an 81 year old in the dark as it was to an 11 year old in broad daylight.
The next day, Sunday, I needed a day to go grocery shopping and to recuperate. My previous 24 hours had been totally exhausting.
But Monday was another story. It was now time to delve into my two remaining questions. Two days ago, my purpose had been to listen to others. This time, it was now time to listen to myself to get a sense of what I had been feeling. And it was time now to sort out a bit of what I had heard from some of the various panel members. All of it, from what was left unsaid and how the panel members said it.
“What in heavens name was all that teariness about?”,I asked myself. “Where do I look to get the answer? I struggled with that latter question for quite a while.... With Catherine, of course, but where? I soon excluded our time together Friday night. I then turned to the time when I felt the first set of tears on early Saturday morning. Now these tears, as I said, really were very gentle and brief. It was a case of almost starting to cry, because I was feeling such strong emotion. They weren’t the down your face bucket of tears of consolation, we all sometimes feel. It wasn’t like shedding buckets when Vera Lynn sings “We’ll Meet Again”, after a person I love moves away; or when Sinead O’Connor’s sings “Nothing Compares 2 U”, for example, in anticipation of how I might feel if something were to happen to Anne. No, it was more drawn out, over a somewhat lengthy period of time.
I asked myself this question. “Don what were you feeling in the middle of the night just before the first tear hit?” Bingo. Even before I found the answer, when I put the question that way, I immediately knew I had hit on the right question, because I immediately began to tear up again, for the first time since Saturday. The answer immediately followed. What I was feeling were the most intensely overpowering feelings of belonging that I had ever felt in my life. My entire life. Sure I feel I belong with Anne and have felt this for 50 years. But even with her, the belonging feelings were never so intense and so overpowering as I felt about my fellow travellers. I mean here were people I had never met; and yet I felt I belonged with them, more intensely than with any other group I had ever been involved with. In short, I felt I was home. I had been away 50 years now. But that didn’t matter. For now I felt I was really and truly home. This is where I want to be. Yes.... Yes...
The next question to consider was what did I hear, when I was listening to some of the presenters in their public statements, where there is no expectation of privacy? Private statements are an entirely different matter. Now it’s important to note that what I say I heard was by no means the truth. It was by no means factually accurate. I could be right about what I heard, but I could also be equally wrong and misguided.
For Nina, I was so far away and heard so little, I really couldn’t get a handle on where she was coming from. But her diagram of 7 of the feelings which she associated with stuttering told me she knew what she was talking about. At the Meet the Authors Panel, I listened to Daniele, Ryan, Mary, and Carla. With Daniele I heard a man who appeared to be incredibly kind and decent and gentle, forced to cope with the personal violence that stuttering creates within each of us; which of course is the exact opposite to the kind of person Daniele appeared to be. With Ryan, I first heard a man who seemed bewildered by or with his own stuttering. Then I realized it was more the case of a man who publicly projects to others an “I don’t care; it is really nothing” attitude towards his own stuttering; which likely bears no reality to how he really feels inside. I can certainly understand why Ryan needs to present himself in this latter way, as he works in the world of athletics where perhaps the biggest sin of all is to admit to any weakness; where success depends on intimidating your opponent; and where any admission of weakness is a juicy target for your opponent, which the athlete can use to crush his opponent into dust. I mean can you imagine Ryan interviewing Michael Jordan using any other approach? With Mary, I simply heard Rage... rage... and rage. If only more people could learn to make contact with their unconscious powerful feelings of Rage, they would be in a lot better position to try and fix their stuttering. With Carla, I heard no personal connection to stuttering at all. As with each of the three authors, and with Carla in particular, what I heard is by no means what is real, what is true. Indeed with Carla especially, it’s hard to imagine a speech language pathologist who didn’t have stuttering problems, at least at some time in his or her life. But I just didn’t hear any of that today.
At the ‘Stuttering and Performing Arts’ Panel, I was only there for the second half of the presentations. But one of the things which caught my attention was this. My reaction to learning that David Stones is able to resort to a true Thesaurus of words for almost every situation, as substitute words to ward off stuttering, was simply “Oh my gawd”. I didn’t stay long enough with Samuel Dunsiger to hear much of anything. Then back to Catherine Moroney. I was still in awe of our hour long conversation from the night before, a night I had not fully recovered from. I had problems keeping up with her train of thought this afternoon. I certainly had nothing left to ask her.
But then there was Bhavna Bakshi. She is of course a very beautiful and a very attractive young woman whom I had never met before. But there was so much more to see and to listen to than that. First off she projected a personal confidence and indeed a control, both of herself and the subject matter she was presenting. She was clearly a polished public speaker. For me, the way she smoothly and adroitly navigated around the stage gave me a visual sense of an elegant tigris prowling around the stage, looking for prey to feast on.
I noted in passing many of her “practices” she referred to for coping with stuttering. They were all familiar. With one exception. One of her practices to deal with stuttering stood out above and beyond all the others, one that left me rather shocked, as I had never heard of anything like this. To cope in a public setting, she physically demonstrated how. She moved around the stage in an unpredictable fashion and all of a sudden she appeared to lunge a bit forward and then come to a screeching stop. Or something like that. In her case, I can see that this might indeed give her more confidence in some situations, and as such might be a short term aid to overcoming her stuttering. But it’s hard to believe that most of us would be capable of using that strategy in our individual struggles to cope with stuttering. I know I certainly couldn’t have. And the other thing which stood out for me, presumably in a stuttering context, was her twice repeated statement describing how proud she was with being able to put on her metaphorical Mitch McConnell face as it were, to prevent other people from knowing how she was really feeling—presumably to mask how she felt when she stuttered. Indeed in both of these instances, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the use of either of these strategies might have a negative impact with her coping with stuttering over the long haul, many years into the future.
From then until dinner, I was still tapped out, so I avoided making any attempt to interact with anyone else waiting for dinner. Instead I sat by myself off to the side in the registration area until it was time to go to dinner. In the meantime, I learned from the staff that dinner had been pushed back half an hour to 7:00pm. I had no problem with that. I just needed to sit in silence a bit longer anyway and let all my new and undifferentiated feelings sink in some more.
I decided I needed to sit by myself for reasons described earlier. But Catherine coming over to speak with me again, picked me right up. And Arun’s kindness in asking me to join his table was much appreciated. But most of all it was Eeva. I admire so many things about her. But most of all, I am indebted to her, for not letting me escape from my having to talk about stuttering, before I wrote “For You, for Each of You”. As I would have much preferred to do—until I eventually realized that by not doing so, I might possibly have something quite useful to contribute to some of my fellow travellers, before my time on earth is up in a few years.
I wanted to get home to be with Anne. There wasn’t anything on for me on the schedule until almost noon the following day, Sunday, in any event, as I couldn’t afford sitting unmasked and having brunch with people. Covid again. But there was now another reason I had to leave as well. I really needed to get home to process all of what I had just experienced. I mean I had no idea where I was emotionally.
I napped for a few hours and then I was off. First for a night visit to the Falls themselves which I never did see as a kid at night. At 1:00am, I headed home. It’s hard to believe I could get confused now, given that I grew up in Hamilton. But as I drove away, I kept looking for a green 420 sign or a blue QEW sign along the Niagara Parkway. I was shocked to find neither. Out of the blue, I found myself driving past the Whirlpool Bridge. In the dark. Despite the unfamiliar darkness in this area, I was able to locate the Whirlpool Rd T intersection and Stanley Avenue; and so I made it home safely. It was now 2:00am, one hour and 52 miles later.
As I was saying good-bye to Eeva, I said to her I didn’t hear any mention of religion at all today or last night. This came as a pleasant surprise. For I doubt that it’s helpful to say “I surrender or offer to God and leave in His hands all my pain relating to my stuttering, to do with as He would choose...”—or some version of those words. I found that didn’t work at all for me in the 1960s, as an attempt to resolve my stuttering problems. In my view if real progress is to be made in reducing stuttering, a specific form of “surrender” is going to have to be part of it. But the religious type is not that, because a religious approach makes the stutterer unduly passive when what is needed is a more active and focused approach in surrendering. Parenthetically, I suspect almost all of us are going to be religious when we find ourselves in a fox hole facing virtual immediate death. I myself will be again for sure.
My short time at the CSA conference was one of the most remarkable 24 hours of my life. I have referred to you, as a group, as “my fellow travellers”. I hope you don’t mind me using a term like that. Because I really can’t think of any better way of putting it—at least nicely. I use this term in part, because I sense there is a commonality in what we are going through when we stutter. But by no means is there an exactitude. When I heard David Stones say his stuttering occurs more often when he speaks, than when he reads, I was stunned. You see for me it was the exact opposite.
To illustrate why I suggest there is a commonality in what we are going through, let me try and quickly recreate a little of how I must have felt between 50-65 years ago. And then it would be for you to see if any of this resonates in your life. In this way, maybe a rough commonality of feeling can be found.
Stuttering makes me feel the lowest of the low. A wretched human being.... Imagine not even being able to say my name without stuttering! That happens to me all the time when I have to call someone on the telephone. What could be more pathetic than that? It’s almost as if I am trying to subconsciously punish myself, or because I feel I hate myself.... Consciously, what hits me the hardest is the shame I feel because I stutter. As well as the sense of isolation which accompanies it. No one ever comes up and consoles me when I make a fool of myself, trying to express myself. They just look away and pretend that nothing has just happened... I feel so helpless to make changes which will make me stop stuttering... I also feel equally a sense of hopelessness. I mean this has gone on so long now, I feel I will never get better, which of course is what Miss Walker, my speech therapist, predicted for me.... What I am going through is so horribly unfair. Why do I have to bear such a burden that no one else I know has ever had to bear?... This probably should make me really angry... but for some reason, it doesn’t.....I hate reading because unlike speaking, where I can substitute words in an attempt to avoid stuttering, there is a fixed text which I can not change, with awful unmoveable words like “Philippians” and “Statistics” to deal with. In speaking I can get a bit of a warm up before I have to meet my enemy full-on, whereas in reading, there is no warm up whatsoever possible.... I hate standing up at a crowded lecture hall to ask a question. I am so scared of stuttering in this crowd that I find I can’t formulate a coherent sentence. And then after I stutter, I just want to crawl back into a hole and lick my wounds after another public embarrassment.... And so on, and so on. And so on. Each of us could probably write our own article on the subject.
And yet the one feeling which is entirely missing here is the same one that Nina didn’t show on her list of feelings she associates with stuttering either. And that’s RAGE. For me it was many years before I ever associated the utterly unconscious feeling of rage with how I was feeling during my stuttering. And yet when I look back now, without a doubt, Rage was the most powerful feeling associated with my stuttering. It’s just that Rage was experienced on an unconscious level, rather than consciously. And this is why it took so long to discover that association.
Using the term “fellow travellers” to describe our journeys was and is the most appropriate term I could think of. However, upon further reflection, “fellow travellers” is really a euphemism. We are not fellow travellers stuttering our way, on a long journey through life. No, we are “fellow prisoners” being taken on a forced march, against our will, to some far distant destination we know not. Read Bataan; Japanese; WWII. Now that’s more like it!
I have no heroes left in life now at my age, other than Anne. She is my one true hero. But this weekend I found a whole new set of heroes whom I shared 24 hours with. You are all precious heroes to me. I am in awe of the bravery you demonstrate in public every day, putting yourself forward stuttering, leading with your chin. I was never as brave as any of you. Never. And so it is with your group that I feel I truly belong, more than any other. And I feel very proud of that, very proud to be a fellow member.
Sure, those 24 hours were among the craziest of my life. But each was filled with a really good craziness that I wouldn’t have missed for the world.