That's me up there. Way up at the top. I was eight years old.
Shortly after this picture was taken, my dad had it blown up to poster size and framed in my bedroom. And there it hung until I moved out for college.
My dad had this picture blown up to remind me, no matter how difficult the challenge, no matter how big the mountain, no matter how much my tears may blur my vision, I can and I will reach the top.
This picture was taken on my fourth grade spring campout. It was the first time I'd ever seen a climbing wall, nevermind climbed one. I didn't have any hearing that day.
After the guides gave a brief introduction to the wall, I noticed most of my classmates were queuing up on one side of the wall. I thought they were crazy to wait, so I went to the other side of the wall, where there was a much shorter line.
Because I couldn't hear instructions, my dad (in the grey hoodie) stood at the base of the wall and banged hard on the left side if I should move to the left for the next handhold and banged the right side of the wall if I should move to the right side.
We developed that plan after I was already halfway up the wall and had fallen off once. I was so stubborn, that even though I was crying, I didn't want the guide to lower me down until I'd reached the top.
And with my Dad's help, I reached the top.
After I was back on the ground and had stopped crying (falling off was scary) and I could read lips again, my dad finally told me that I'd chosen the harder wall to climb. There were far less handholds and so many of my classmates had chosen the easier side of the wall to try their climbs.
Ever since that day, whenever I've struggled or wanted to give up, my dad has quietly reminded me of this picture, of this day. I can and I will reach the top. And he'll always be there to help me if I need him.