Inspiration

For three years, I wrestled as The Professor Murdock, a heel who called fans ‘swamp donkeys’ as he stomped towards his glorious classroom: the wrestling ring.

At the time, I saw my decision to wrestle as another ‘goal’ to check off my bucket list, but, after writing Paper Champion,  I now realize that I wrestled to make my father proud.

In every title win and in every loss, I wished that my dad would be standing in the bleachers: watching, smiling and cheering me on. 

But, he wasn’t. And he never could be.

For three years, I wrestled as The Professor Murdock, a heel who called fans ‘swamp donkeys’ as he stomped towards his glorious classroom: the wrestling ring.

At the time, I saw my decision to wrestle as another ‘goal’ to check off my bucket list, but, after writing Paper Champion,  I now accept that I wrestled to make my father proud.

In every title win and in every loss, I wished that my dad would be standing in the bleachers: watching, smiling and cheering me on. 

But, he wasn’t. And he never could be.

My father died in front of me when I was 15. While writing, revising and collaborating on Paper Champion, I discovered that I still blamed myself for my father’s death.

Even though I did everything in my power to keep him alive, I wonder: what could I have done differently? Maybe if the cord was longer, the 911 operator could’ve talked me through CPR? And, maybe, if I could’ve performed CPR, then my dad would still be alive today.

My father died in front of me when I was 15.  While writing, revising and collaborating on Paper Champion, I discovered that I still blamed myself for my father’s death.

Even though I did everything in my power to keep him alive, I wonder: what could I have done differently? Maybe if the cord was longer, the 911 operator could’ve talked me through CPR? And, maybe, if I could’ve performed CPR, then my dad would still be alive today.

In many ways, I’m afraid that the world will forget my father, and, if I’m being honest, I’m scared that I’ll forget him, too. Writing this story is my way of remembering the best parts of Joe. It’s how I assure myself that I won’t–I can’t–forget my dad. 

Stories can give shape to our questions and help us heal from trauma. 

To this day, I question if my dad was proud of me. I wonder if he knows how hard I tried to impress him– both as an eight-year-old kid in the nineties and now as a 35-year-old man today.   

I think writing Paper Champion is my answer to that question. I know it’s the best I could do.

I hope my dad’s proud of me. I hope he knows I’m sorry. I hope he realizes just how much he still matters to me.

In many ways, I’m afraid that the world will forget my father, and, if I’m being honest, I’m scared that I’ll forget him, too. Writing this story is my way of remembering the best parts of Joe. It’s how I assure myself that I won’t–I can’t–forget my dad.

Stories can give shape to our questions and help us heal from trauma. 

To this day, I question if my dad was proud of me. I wonder if he knows how hard I tried to impress him–both as an eight-year-old kid in the nineties and now as a 35-year-old man today.   

I think writing Paper Champion is my answer to that question. I know it’s the best I could do.

I hope my dad’s proud. I hope he knows I’m sorry. I hope he realizes just how much he still matters to me.