Last week, my stepfather, Mosch Virshup, was in a terrible bicycle accident. He is unconscious in the neurological ICU at the University of New Mexico Hospital.

Mosch came into my life when I was already a teenager – I met him through the church youth group as a high school freshman. The first time I met Mosch, I don’t think I made much of an impact on him, but he made quite an impression on me. We were at a church lock-in with youth from all over our district. One of the youth who came with Mosch had taken some over-the-counter pill to help her stay awake. She ended up very sick. Mosch stayed with her throughout the weekend, very sweetly tending to her. In addition to his sweet attendance on an ill youth, I also noticed Mosch’s absolute support for youth to make authentic decisions about themselves. I was fascinated by him.

Mosch quickly became a very important presence in my life, starting at these church gatherings, and slowly seeping into my home life. He moved in with my mother (and I) full-time the summer before my senior year of high school.

I think Mosch was surprised when I started referring to him as a stepfather. He felt he had entered my life too late to hold the role of parent, or anything like it. But he was wrong. Teenagers need parents, and there’s no particular reason to stop at two or three of them. Mosch stepped into my life at a time when I needed his approach to parenting, and being with teenagers generally. A lot of who I am, and how I think it is important to be with and teach young people, is based on my experiences with Mosch as my stepfather.

I don’t think I have ever properly thanked Mosch for his role in my upbringing and my life. I dearly hope I will still have a chance to.