One of Those Weeks

It’s been a difficult kind of week.  One that makes you want to roll it up, shove it out the window and forget it even happened.  Simply slice the week off the calendar and move along.  Right along.  But you can’t.  Because the decisions and happenings of this week – won’t just stay in this week alone.  They change the direction of life, and head us down a different road.

This week, it has seemed that life has hung us off the edge of a cliff while yelling “How do you like me now?” The answer to that is, and will always be: Not very much.

On Monday on my way to drop Josh off at school, I glanced out the window to ensure that Dylan was waiting for the bus.  It was going to be just another Monday.  Nothing special.  Nothing good.  Nothing bad.  Just another ordinary day.  Ordinary week.  Except it would be the last time I would see him until Wednesday.

Because few hours later I got a phone call asking why Dylan wasn’t attending school.  Since he has played hooky more than once, I dismissed their questions, rolled my internal eyes, prepared the speech and headed home to kick him on his way to school.

Except that he wasn’t at home.  And no one was sure where he was, just that he had ridden the bus to school – and walked away.

Which is when my heart sunk, -just a little bit more.  Because while everyone else seemed to pass it off as “He’s just hiding out from you and school” approach, it didn’t seem that way to me.  It wasn’t until the late hours of the day did I return home.  Empty handed, ½ expecting ½ hoping that he had found his way home.  Except that he hadn’t.

Tuesday proved to be more of the same with some added panic and anxiety tossed in because one can never have enough of that.   Early Wednesday morning, found me pacing the halls of the hospital after an early morning phone call that he had been brought in.  It wasn’t until much later in the day did they finally tell me what had went on, which can be loosely translated into “He did it good this time.”

The official report would go something along the lines of attempted suicide, blood loss and possible nerve damage.

It’s been one of those weeks.

Friday the reality of what he had done, was beginning to sink in.  At least for him it was.  The reality of what he had done had already sunk in for me on Monday, when I realized he wasn’t where he should be.  And he wasn’t going to be.

It’s been one of those weeks.

That have been filled with visits from doctors, and therapist, well knowing and well meaning people alike.

One of those weeks…

That could have been very much ordinary, and very much tragic, yet instead went somewhere right down the middle.  Not ending as bad as it could -but definitely not as good as it could either.

I am trying to focus on the fact that we have another chance.  To do this all over right.  To make different decisions, to take that different road.  But so far, it just seems like we are spinning in hopeless circles.

Today I remind myself that he is safe.  If for only one more day.

Tonight I will recall all the hurtful things I have ever said, and all the things he has said that could be classified as “warnings.”

Tomorrow I will see him one last time, before he is taken to a different hospital to hopefully get the help he needs.

For now, we will continue this one day at a time.  And not look for any ordinary days for a long time.

And everything else?  Will just have to wait.

It’s been one of those weeks.

The Crossing of The Lines

Quite a few years ago, I was given some of the best advice I could have ever been given when it comes to writing.  It was given as a random tidbit of information, without much meaning, sandwiched in-between other pieces of information.  “Wait a few days, or years before writing about your circumstances.”  The advice started.  “That way you will be sure to steer clear of everyone’s dirty laundry, and your stories will be told with a more powerful approach – with time in between, the ugly fades away, and only the beauty remains.”

I’m pretty sure this led to another diversion on the absence of ugly being beauty, but I couldn’t honestly tell you.

But sometimes.  The ugly is needed too.  Without the ugly, I find, that life just runs together.  You forget so many important things, and begin to assume that life is supposed to be kind, all the time, when quite frankly, it isn’t.  This combined with the fact that so much of life lately isn’t up for grabs, isn’t mine to write about, and is really too much of the ‘dirty laundry’ I was so carefully advised against messing with, has started to wear on me.

Somewhere there is a line.  A line that was not ever explained to me.  My family does not hail from a long line of literate folks.  Writing is what you do to pay bills.  Talking is what happens when you need to argue.  Words are those funny things that you may yell at each other.  The line about one persons life, crossing into yours – thus giving you the freedom to write about it, was never explained to me.  And as I walk along it, trying ever so carefully trying to avoid the pitfalls of mentioning something that isn’t mine to mention, I find myself losing out on what is important.

That line, has always caused me grief.  I have never been good at understanding what is mine to tell, and what isn’t mine to tell.  Which is a problem when it comes to writing, especially.

And then there is the waiting period.  The one you are supposed to allow in between the event, and the writing of the event.  But the problem there is that I need to write before, during AND after, just to process everything.  But my mind gets tangled up with all the rules and should haves shouldn’t haves, do’s and don’ts that sometimes I don’t know what to write.

This week has been a long, daunting one, full of lines that I should not cross, angles I should not take, and advice I should not be giving.  Its been filled with caution, threats and so much of that hard stuff that no one likes to think about.  And yesterday in the midst of a midday, midweek freak out I had to stop.  Remind myself that taking things one day at a time was just going to have to be ok.  Crossing lines would just have to work.  Tangling thoughts would just have to happen.  And somehow, things would end up ok.  Because laying on the floor throwing myself a fit isn’t going to get us anywhere.

We are far from the finish line, far from this being off the horizon.  Far from finding answers that satisfy us all.  We are somewhere in the knee deep, only going to get deeper area.  Where you grab a life vest and hang on, because you know by the time its over there isn’t going to be much left.  A scary sink or swim, do or die situation that may or may not be mine to tell.  And while one day, perhaps, the other side of the story will get told – for now, it has landed in my court, and been directly given to me to handle.

I don’t know when to not cross lines, and how to keep things separated.  But for now it seems pretty clear that while it might not be mine personally – its mine to deal with.  And this.  Is how I deal with it.  So forgive me, if in the coming days I cross lines, screw things up, tell things that aren’t mine, and desperately try and find a way to get us all through this.

Happy Birthday

I remember the day she was born, but not with the same fond memories that most have.  The day was tainted, and quickly went from what could have been one of the best days ever, to the worst.  Instead of becoming a family, we became separated – by death.  Instead of having ‘two’ I was walking away and left with one.  One, I had no idea what to do with.  For once, I was left alone – perhaps for the first time in my life.

She scared me.  All less than 10 pounds of her.  Everything about her scared me.  Her cry, her size, her eyes.  They terrified me.  Which was funny, considering I’m not scared of heights, the dark or even spiders -some of the most common fears around.  But being left alone with my infant daughter?  More than scared me.  It terrified me.

I don’t remember the day we went home.  Don’t recall that first night.  I don’t know when, or if really, the terror left.  I remember the crying.  I remember the weight of her and the combined responsibility being more than I could handle at times.  There was no “Its your turn, I just fed her/changed her/dealt with her.  There was only the crying.  The screaming.  The simply not knowing.  The pure TERROR of raising this tiny, helpless human.

I don’t remember when exactly, but somewhere between, the crying became less frequent, and the smiles more frequent and I became someone’s daddy for the first time.  While it’s true, that she probably stole my heart from the moment I saw her, the reality of what I was now in for – didn’t set in for a few months.  Or maybe it was years.

We won’t ever know what her 12th year of life will look like.  Won’t ever know what she would say, or do, or even be.  But I do know, that 12 years ago, even though I didn’t know it then, my life would forever be changed.  In a small room where a tiny girl held more than just my last name.  She held a piece of my heart, and she never did give it back.

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Happy Birthday, baby girl.

- Your dad

I Don’t Know

The terrible twos, they tell you, are the worst years.  Yet still some others beg to differ, and claim that no, three is the worst year ever.  I’m beginning to realize that every age, is hard.

Late this morning I walked into the police station, and sat on the cold hard chairs rehearsing my story.  Its not so much a story, as it is the truth.  But rehearsing is needed when it comes to situations like these.  Situations that combine fears, and kids, and cops all in one.  I needed something solid to lean back on, and thus the rehearsing began.

He’s 16.  Stands a few inches shorter than me.  He has brown hair, brown eyes.  And I’m sorry I don’t remember what he was wearing, because I have failed at this whole parenting thing.  I didn’t take his picture that morning on the off chance he decided not to come home.  I didn’t memorize him as I drove by.  I glanced to the side, made a mental note that he was at the bus stop, and continued on my way.  Like I do every morning.

I took the other one to school, ran through the mental to do list for the day, and pulled into work a few minutes later than usual thanks to traffic that can hardly be called traffic.  And a few hours later my phone rang.  I don’t usually answer it, but yesterday I did.  “Dylan is absent again today.” the caller stated.  “Do you want to give a reason or stop in later today….” she trailed off while I mentally flipped through what had happened.  I sighed, told her I would get back to her, and, assuming he had decided to play hooky, went home to confront him.

Except he wasn’t there.

And he hasn’t been there since.

I spent the day knocking on doors, driving up and down the same roads, over and over hoping that by some small miracle – he would be there, and I could drive him nuts with the questions.  Where were you?  What were you thinking?  Why did you leave?  I continued to drive until the darkness gave way, and even then I stalked any random figure I saw walking down the street.

While he hasn’t ever been in trouble with the law, he has teetered on the edge of self harm more than once, and come dangerously close, too close, before.  The worry in the pit of my stomach grows, and hardens.  I waffle between intense anger, and nothing.  Because at this point, nothing seems to make sense.  And the things that do make sense, my mind simply refuses to entertain.

The questions they ask, I assume are routine, but cant help but shift nervously in my chair, wondering.  Fearing.  Are they assuming?  Are they just going to mark him down as another lost case?  Will they really do their best?  Try their hardest?  Are they just shaking their heads at the irony that I couldn’t see?  The stats that continue to play out?  Are they considering CPS?  Should I run?

“Would he contact you if he were in trouble?” they ask again.  And because I have no honest answer, and because I swore I wouldn’t lie to a uniformed officer, I shake my head.  I don’t know.

I really, don’t know.

It’s the only honest answer I have for anything.

I just.  Don’t.  Know.

As The Scar Appears

Truth be told, I have avoided the silent places.  The places in life where, if left too long, alone, with silence – the thoughts start to creep in.  The places where you can hear yourself think, and when you can finally hear yourself think, you start to entertain thoughts that you know you shouldn’t be.  The places where even your loudest thoughts cannot drown out the screams of the masses (or minorities, depending on how you look at it).  The places that take me down deep, and far back and threaten to never release its hold.  The places I do not want to be.  Yes.  Truth be told, I have been avoiding those places.

Somehow over the past few years, this too has turned into such a place.  A place that once brought me comfort and relief from the world spinning so out of my control.  A place where I could write down my thoughts and not have to worry about being picked apart.  A place where my thoughts could be removed, looked at, sorted out, and reassembled.  A place.  That I enjoyed coming to.  And somehow over the years, I have slowly started to scale back.

I have scaled back what I share, I have been scaled back on what I can share.  I look over my words, and feel the immense pain and sadness and the deep urge to just RUN.  I feel, for myself.  The thing is, the me of here, and the me now – are two different people.  Life isn’t completely grand, no.  It never will be for anyone.  But trying to write something now would have a much different tune than it did even a year ago.  It seems disrespectful, in a sense.  To write the words I have today, in the same place the words of me a year ago lay.

But I cant bring myself to completely do away with writing, because as much as air is to many, or all, so is writing to me.  I need the outlet, the release, the putting of words into sentences that don’t make any sense.  I need this.  For me.  For both the me of then, and the me of now.

We are a week away from what would have been my daughters 12th birthday.  And while that day will never go down as one of the best in history, it will never go down much like it did that first year.  Or even the second or third.  Where it was all I could do to not be completely engulfed by the horror that yet another had passed – without her.  There are still days when I am caught off guard by a song, or a memory.  A small face, or tiny hands.  There are moments where my heart skips a beat, and my breath gets logged somewhere in my throat and I wonder “What IF!”

But nothing can ever compare to those first years.  Nothing can compare to these past few years.  Nothing.  No one could have ever told me how completely ripped apart, scalded, burned, and beaten I would feel.  No one would ever have prepared me to love so deeply, that grief would literally try to tear my own life away from me – yet refused, because that would be too kind.  I could never have been prepared for the gut ripping, mind blowing experience of LIVING without life itself.  No one.  And yet here we are, so many, many years later…

And I am supposed to somehow, rearrange my thoughts and prepare articles, make dinner, wipe noses, raise kids, and feed the dog.  Somehow.  I am supposed to fold my thoughts out, write my heart down, and say what is on my mind.  But its hard.  Because life isn’t easy.  It never is.  Yet it seems almost trivial to complain, or whine about the things in life now.  Because compared to just last year – life is a cake walk.

My hope is to return.  With words.  And sentences.  And thoughts.  My hope is to once again be drawn to this place, and not to see it as only the words of a terribly sad life – but also of life today.  Because just as a scab eventually disappears, and an ugly scar is left in its place – so am I.  Still here.  Still breathing.  Still hoping.  Still waiting.  Yet much like a scar no longer resembles the skin that was BEFORE the wound, so my life will look nothing like before.

“It’s Ok”

The last words I would ever say to her, the words I said as she lay dying in my arms. It’s not, nor was it, as poetic as it sounds. Death never is. And at the time – I didn’t know those words would be the last I would ever say. They were just words of comfort – to her, to me, that somehow, someway – it really would be ok.

I would go on to say those words. Repeat them year after year. They became cliché, worn, worthless. “I’m sorry for your loss” they would say, and instinctively, as if to offer them some comfort, some release from the god awfully awkward conversation they had SOMEHOW managed to get themselves into I would reply: “It’s ok.”

But the truth is, I have come to realize, far too late in life, is that it isn’t ok. And it most likely never will be ok. And that no matter how awkward or weird or horrible it may make a person feel – it is NOT ok.

It is not ok that cancer stole my girl. It is not ok that she felt pain and suffered and had to die as I sat helplessly by watching. It is not ok that her life was cut short, and out of respect for others feelings – I avoid the topic – because nothing kills a conversation faster than saying “My daughter had cancer. But she didn’t survive.”

She is just another lost addition in the endless sea of statistics. She means nothing to anyone else, and might have been nothing but another number. But to turn a deaf ear to the cause. To the awareness. To the need to end this? Is NOT ok. And it never will be.

Not today, just another day in September. Not tomorrow. Not next year, or next month.

It’s not ok that childhood cancer still exists. No matter what way you look at it, it is never going to be ok.

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September

I can relate to this post.  So much: Awareness.  What a bulls*** word!

The Emotional Cost of Childhood Cancer

The Fiercest Warriors Against Childhood Cancer

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Some Videos:

The Childhood Cancer Ripple Effect

Stand Up To Cancer

Truly Brave

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My Own Personal Take On September:

To Remember or Not?

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Some Buttons:

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While in my experience, people get annoyed with the month of September, and everything childhood cancer awareness related, I say: Relax.  In a few days your life will return to normal.  Yellow will turn to pink, and people will once again move on without being forced to think about the unthinkable.  For me?  My life will never be the same.

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All I have are pictures.  Memories.  And regrets.

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Everyday I miss her.

Forgive the postings.  Forgive the colors.  Forgive the memories.  The remembrance.  The hope.  The fear.  Forgive me, and millions of others – for wanting to end this disease.  But for some, its all we have.  The small glimmer of hope – that maybe one day, others will be spared the pain of hearing the words: Your child has cancer.

Today You Turn Ten

This morning I called. Three rings and a few moments later – I was talked to a seemingly empty receiver. I knew you were there, listening, as always: The quiet breathing, occasional sniffle, and the dropping of the phone kind of tipped me off. But all that is beside the point. Today, you turn ten.

I originally planned on spending the day with you, as usual. Maybe get some pancakes, try and embarrass you a little. Who knows. I didn’t really have the day planned. I didn’t really know what would go down. But instead, last minute plans left me a thousand miles away – talking to you on the phone while you did what you do best, and listened.

I filled in the gaps, carried on a conversation as if you were giving answers right back at me. And then I hung up the phone and thought about what you hadn’t said. Not just today. But in the past five years.

Someone asked me the other day if I had ever considered buying you an iPad to help you communicate with others. I brushed it off with my common answer of not wanting to disable you from communicating outside of a piece of technology, and how I wanted you to be able to communicate with everyone – no matter what electronic you held in your hand. I stated my case. Then stopped and thought about what I had just said and wondered for a brief moment: Am I disabling you?

The things I do, I do with you in mind. I try to think about your best interest, and plan for future. I accept the help for you that I believe will give you the best results, and try not to hold you back too much. I try to push you, encourage you to expand, and try to give you the tools you need to grow…

But in all this, am I holding you back? Am I making the wrong choices? Am I giving you the wrong things, and holding back the right? In the name of helping am I really holding you back? In trying to push you, am I hurting you? In trying to grow your mind, am I really just inhibiting your abilities?

And then, in a brief moment of self-pity, where I feel sorry for myself – I cry out to no one in particular that if only you would talk. If only you would tell me. If only you could communicate with me. If only. I never asked for this. I never wanted to go down this road. I never. Me. I. What about you?

In all my thinking and planning and hoping and wanting and wishing – What about you? Do you wish you could talk? Do you wish I would stop holding you back? Are the things I assume about you really so wrong? Do I not know you the way I like to think I do? Are you really so different? Would you tell me if I were holding you back? Would you somehow let me know?

And then I stop. And think. And realize.

No.

You never asked for this either. You didn’t ask to be scared. To be hurt. To be torn down, and belittled, and left. You didn’t ask to live here. You didn’t ask for people to talk about you while you are standing there with them. You didn’t ask for me to selfishly wonder “WHY ME!” Yet you smile…

And you dance. And you laugh. And you show the world how to be a better person, just by being you.

And if there is one thing I should know by now, it’s what you have shown me, again and again and again. It doesn’t matter what life hands your way. It doesn’t matter who tries to knock you down, or gain from your failures, or triumph over your disasters….it doesn’t matter.

Because at the end of the day, you go home with yourself – not them. And at the end of the day, when you smile, and laugh, or even when you cry in frustration. Even on the days that are so hard – I am reminded. No. I didn’t choose this for you. No. I wouldn’t have chosen this for you. But you? You make this world so much better just by being in it, and you make me realize just how lucky I am to be in this world with you.  And no matter how tough things get, or how complicated and confusing things are – I am here to navigate those roads with you.  And I will always be here for you.

I hope one day you will realize that I have failed, so hard, that I don’t always make the right choices for you, but I try. And I will always try. Because YOU are worth trying for, and you always will be.  Don’t forget that.

Don’t let anyone hold you back, not even me.

Happy Birthday Buddy,

- Your Uncle

In The Midst of The Mundane

Life lately has been what I would refer to as, manageable. I can manage problems from a distance from the comfort of my phone. In fact, the biggest complications I have had the past few months have been deciding when to get my work done. Not how, but when. I have had the pleasure of disconnecting myself from life to take a breather.   In reality, the break should have been about finding some answers, establishing a plan to get not only myself, but the kids, through this world – successfully.

But instead, I have unleashed a hidden dream of mine and am afraid to put it away.

In less than a week, I will board the plane and be thrown back into the whirlwind of life. Rain will most likely meet me, problems I abandon four months ago will still be there and the whirlwind to get things back on track will still be waiting.

I haven’t done as much deciding as I would have hoped.   But in the midst of my down time, I have done some contemplating. Some begging. And lots and lots of thinking.

Life. Is. Complicated.

Sure that may seem obvious, but it is. It’s messy. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. There are so many words that could be used to describe it. Short. Unfair. Fast. Challenging. Exciting. Thrilling. Disastrous. Wonderful and daring to name a few. But there is so much of it that goes unnoticed. So much of life that just gets passed over, ran past, and forgotten.

How quick we are to forget. To take notice of someone other than ourselves. How fast we fail to remember that the world does not rotate around us. How quick we are to become frustrated with the mundane, day to day, in and out, seemingly meaningless tasks surrounding us. But in the midst of the mundane is where the beauty lies.

In the middle of school shopping, traveling, and working. In the middle of the night, the rough afternoons and the complicated evenings. On the days you just want to throw your hands in the air, and wave the white flag of surrender….there. In those moments. Is where life REALLY matters.

A few days ago I was talking with someone who had just passed their driving test. “I ran over a hedge, knocked over some flowers and ran up the curb. I thought for sure I had failed.” He said “But when I was done – he congratulated me, and said I passed. It wasn’t the problems I occurred, but rather how I handled them – that mattered.”

In the middle of the frustrating, hard, mundane tasks – Stop. These are the moments that matter the most. The ones that seem to have no meaning, and are full of frustrating, dead end leads. This isn’t saying I won’t be frustrated when its 1am and the kids still aren’t asleep. Or when I get phone calls that make my head spin. This doesn’t mean I won’t fall down. It doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt. It just means that life – is full of meaning. Even in the midst of the mundane, seemingly hopeless tasks.