There were two times in my adult life when I bawled like a toddler. My body becomes uncontrollable creating spasms that feel like my heart will pull itself out of my chest, snot runs down my face, and tears water my cheeks.

The first time was at Eric’s funeral in 1992. He was 46 years old, no wife or kids. He had eight brothers and sisters and lived 3000 miles away. He made a fortune in the oil business and left half to his friend Patrick and half to his mother, Grace.

I didn’t know Eric very well. He visited my dad a couple of times, but he lived so far away. He was just a short memory. On that May day, it was Grace who caught my attention. Dressed in a blue pantsuit, her face was uncharacteristically grey. Her eyes were empty with sorrow, and her soul squeezed out of her body. The woman I knew was not the woman at the gravesite.

Grace was my Gramma. She and I had a special bond. When my parents went to work, I stayed with her. When my parents went dancing, I played cards with her. When my parents went hunting, I ate her homemade bread and apple jelly while watching tv. She was my best friend. I didn’t know it at the time. I thought she was just my Gramma. But that day in May, I saw my hero give up. I studied the pain of the death of her secondborn. And I bawled for her grief to be relieved.

My parents consoled me, thinking I couldn’t handle Eric’s death. Through my tears and snot, I couldn’t verbalize the pain I saw in her. The doctors said she died on October 21, 1993, at 64 years of age. I think she died that day in May 1992.

I share this story with tears cleaning my face 30 years later.

The second time I bawled, I was in a hospital in Tennessee. My wife and I were waiting for the nurse to arrive. It was June 25, 2005.

Let me back up a bit. Aline and I were married in 1998. We decided to spend time together, buy a house, and get better jobs before we started a family. Plus, there was this Y2K thing looming over the world, so we waited until 2000 to have a baby.

Y2K became a joke as most fearmongered things do. And two more years dissipated without a visit from the stork. We visited doctors and fertility clinics. We did unholy things in the name of science that we regretted after the fact.

I injected Aline with progesterone for three months. The saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn,” is child’s play when said woman is injected with progesterone. The lows were so deep I couldn’t see the spark in my wife’s eyes.

On the last month of our three-month progesterone cycle, we decided this was it. If this doesn’t work, we’re done with the science. I was at work. The phone rings. I see my home number on the display. “Hello,” but no one answers. There’s silence on the other end. I say “Hello” again, thinking it’s a bad connection. Still no answer. Impatient, I say “Hello” one more time with a bit more oomph. Through the silence, I heard something. It wasn’t a voice. It was a crack or a split second of static. Maybe white noise.

“Aline, are you ok?” I whispered. The crack turned into a rustle, which turned into a sob. I could hear her tears over the phone. Her period started. Her baby was never going to be. I rushed home, held her, and consoled her. I may have cried a bit, but not uncontrollably. Her pain was similar to Gramma’s in May 1992. But her pain was for a dream of what was supposed to be. She lost hope.

Hope is a sly trickster. You place your confidence in her, and she seemingly lets you down only to give you something way better. Some call that faith. I believe Hope and Faith are sisters from the same mister.

While holding her, I said something my Gramma used to say to me, “It’s not about if, it’s about when.” Afterward, when we faced with a challenge, one of us would blurt out, “It’s not about if we’re going to have a baby. It’s just a question of when that baby is going to arrive”. Hope helped us redirect our energy toward adoption.

Fast forward to that hospital room three years later. Two nurses opened the door with a 3-day old baby girl in their arms. I held Aline and whispered in her ear, “It’s not about if because today is the when.” Then I bawled. I couldn’t see the joy on my wife’s face as tears blocked my view. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t walk. Snot flowed. My heart glowed. Aline was a mom. And I, a dad.

I tell people that I don’t know what it’s like to make a baby and go through pregnancy. Aline and I waited five years. We spent thousands of dollars and questioned our faith hundreds of times. But the one thing I know for sure is the second I met my baby girl was the moment I knew for sure what love was. I would have killed a man to protect her. I had just met her, but she had been in my heart for five years. It took her a little longer to get born.

So now you’ve read two true stories about me. This isn’t my ego showing off. I wanted you to see a side of me that makes me real. I’m a regular guy going through pains and gains just like you.

These stories were so powerful for me that I cried two different times as I wrote them. The memories ushered me to those two dates like a time machine.
If they mean nothing to you, then you can’t relate to my pain and happiness. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We come from different stock.
But if I reminded you of something that happened to you, we connected by having similar emotions.

I share these two stories because they both reflect a time when I was vulnerable.
Vulnerability is the power tool in storytelling.

Don’t misinterpret history with stories. Telling stories about the past, humble beginnings, and the company founders may be interesting and even nostalgic. But from the point of view of storytelling, it misses the mark without using vulnerability.

If you can’t make the audience feel, it’s documenting.
No 5-year-old ever asked their mom to read them a documentary before bedtime.
That time is reserved for stories.

Storytelling pulls out an emotion in the audience. It reminds them of their own memory of a mother burying a child or a gramma passing away, or a baby being born.

The vulnerabilities morph into feelings for the audience as they deal with the narrative of their own lives.

Feelings create bonds.
Bonds disguise themselves as love. I believe that’s what happened to me on June 25, 2005, when I met Marie-Soleil.

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