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She looked up to him when she was five years old. Her hero. Her father. He hung her moon and all the stars as far as she was concerned.
When she was fifteen, he fell just a little. She realized that heroes were just human after all. They didn't hang the moon ... or the stars.
At twenty-five she stopped believing in heroes.
When she turned thirty-five, she began to realize that maybe heroes really were just humans after all. They didn't wear capes of red or masks of black with bat ears on them. Instead they wore camouflage and Kevlar. They stopped to let a mama duck and her ducklings cross the road. They rushed into burning buildings to carry out children and the elderly. They were fathers who showed up and stayed .. and who weren't afraid to cry. They were mothers who shouldered the weight, wiped the tears, and taught us how to fly. They were the people who paid it forward ... or in some cases, paid it back. They were you. They were me. People just struggling to survive ... and not just surviving, but thriving.
He died just two months before she turned forty-five. That hero she looked up to when she was five. The moon still hung in the sky. The stars still sparkled at night. And she realized that he was a hero after all. He could have been a lot of things, which he was to a lot of people. Listening to everyone talk about him at the memorial service she realized that not only had he been her first hero ... but he had been the first, last and all the ones in between to a lot of people in his life. She realized also that most of the time, you don't realize how much of a hero someone is ... until they are gone.
She's looking forward to turning fifty-five in a few years ... and making a point to thank all of the heroes in her life ... today.