Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why No Blogging???

I have had this question via e-mail, phone calls, and in person lately. Some people have asked is this a good thing or bad thing? The real reason I haven't been blogging was because I was working on reprioritizing between paying bills, keeping up with work, communicating with friends, focusing on what's most important, and never taking my eye off the ball with the kids. The kids have always been number 1, and #2 still ends up being half of our dinner conversations between the three of us (it's amazing how many different conversations you can have about the most simple of human functions like pooping, farting, boogers, and penises). Well I can finally say for the most part I'm caught up, but much, much more importantly I have my priorities back in order.

Don't get me wrong, number 1 had never changed (the boys!). It's just that things like bills, work, the house, the yard, etc. had to move up the chart. Things like going out all the time, always having friends over, e-mails, blogging, phone calls, drinking, etc. needed to move down the chart. I spontaneously sent Whitney and Man-Marie a list one day of things I needed to improve on and set myself out on it. They responded as always with nude photos so I knew the #2 priority was still in order (porn site of my friends). Another friend, Andrea, helped me set priorities and realize even if sometimes I offended friends/family or heaven to mergatroy (somebody please e-mail me the feline that always said that line, I know it was a Hanna-Barbara cartoon) came across as one of the gay superfriends (or ambigiously gay duo) that was okay too as long as I was getting my priorities accomplished. Anna, I haven't forgotten your offer to go gay, if I could find my Robin (holy vaginaless life Batman!) I might just settle in, but not in CA anymore per judge's order.

I realized that I was overcompensating, pushing myself so hard to feel better because I'm always so positive that I wasn't where I was trying to convince myself I was (if that makes any sense it's kind of like when Superman flew so fast against the earth's spin he made time go in reverse to save Lois Lane --- who knew at the time that Lois Lane played by Margot Kidder was such a nut job?). I was trying to capture something that will never be here again, yet fly ahead so fast that I was skipping the most important parts --- feeling the pain of what I've been through. I am so lonely when I'm alone, so I tried to not be alone --- ever! That's not as easy as it sounds with two kids and no partner, but I did a pretty good job for a while faking it. I miss Hope still, but it's slowly not all the time.

My last 2 psycho appointments have gone incredibly well. One I cried like a baby as we brought up what Hope went through from her last major tongue surgery one year ago to almost the day to her final rest. She suffered so much more than I ever wrote about in the blogs or told anybody about. She almost died a few times, long before hospice. She wanted to end it all herself, the only thing stopping her was thinking about the kids or me finding her. I think I even wanted it some times, to watch her suffer, to watch the kids suffer, to know I was suffering but could not face it, makes that ride to Florida for the first time when we left our entire lives/family/friends behind at midnight in New England to "temporarily try Florida" feel like just watching a Saved by the Bell marathon (now by that I mean the original, not the college years --- because watching those is true suffering except the second season when Kelly Kapowski came back to the show). I have no regrets, I know I did everything humanly possible to help her but cancer was so much stronger than us in the end. Right now I can barely even see the screen through my tears, but that just might be game 7 coming back on me when the Magic could not miss a 3 pointer and our beloved undermanned Celtics took the Eastern Conference champs to the brink. Or maybe it's watching Big Papi swing the bat, either one of those will make me cry right now.

The last appointment with my psycho was much more positive. She said she could see a huge difference in me since I realized I was only fooling myself. I thought about the following lines from the Counting Crows song Come Around:

"I'm one of a million pieces fallen on the ground
It's one of the reasons when we say goodbye
We'll still come around
We will come around
I have waited for tomorrow from December 'til today
I have started loving sorrow along the way
I am calling from some city and I won't be there too long
I could wait and I could waste away
But what comes back is I hear you say we're gone
For all of the times that I go spinning up and down
When all of the things have died between us
Well, we'll still come around
We will come around
After I've been missing for a while
And you hear that summer's song
Haven't all the fading lines lingered on?
What I know is: she's going
When you know it, it's alright"

I think I finally know it, she's gone and it's alright. The three Wisemen will be alright. We will move on, we will be stronger, and I think I am beginning to do so in tiny baby steps. I still have so much trouble focusing on work sometimes, bills seem impossible, taxes, 401K's, defined benefit plans, proposals, invoices, balancing bank accounts, refinancing, home owner's insurance, lawn maintenance, pool cleaning, pressure washing, gutter cleaning, and all the rest come and go like I'm James T. Kirk overacting. "Must reach beepie walkie talkie thing and flip open so my hair piece pops up at the same time to call Bones to tell him he must be brought back to life for next scene to say dammit Jim, I'm just a doctor."

Not to say it's been all bad. The kids both finished up school, and I've made a ton of new friends. We have BBQ's, pool parties, and many other excuses to get together (and yes Whitney not be alone). Reese had a full cap and gown graduation that was the cutest thing you've ever seen with the pre-K kids singing songs and just being pre-K kids. I cried during the ceremony, just thinking about Hope being there and how happy she would have been. I know she was there, but not the real Hope. It was just me sitting between two grandma's with the best intentions, some acquaintences that have become great friends, but just not the same as being there with Hope. We then had the first official day of summer with Nathan wrapping up his year, I took the day off and hit Sea World with the kids. We stayed at an incredible resort with a huge water slide, lazy river, and so much else to do. We stayed the whole long weekend and hit Sea World twice along with Downtown Disney. We did unfortunately lose Reese's Ya-yas, his favorite blanket he's always had that weekend. I've called the resort many, many times with no call back yet so I haven't given up all HOPE (there goes that word and feeling again).

At Sea World you can buy passes once and keep coming back for the rest of the year. It was just what the doctor ordered, an injection of holy shit we are still alive and let's make sure we take full advantage. The kids deserve it, it's been hopefully the toughest year of their lives (I can only HOPE it is the toughest year they ever face). We've been kicked in the balls, but thanks to all the love and support we've received we're getting back up better than ever. The next weekend we stayed in Orlando again for 3 more days at a first-class resort with Ella, Tina and Jon. I've done some work for Hubbs-Sea World and they gave the boys and I free behind the scene passes that were incredible. Not only did we get close up and personal with polar bears, boluga whales, dolpins, manatees, sea turtles, have an incredible buffet lunch with no seafood oddly enough (Reese's favorite part was lunch as he devoured more chicken wings then when Scott, Kurt and I used to competitively eat at the Quincy's buffet --- I can still remember the poor waitress that got our table finally just bringing us pitchers of soda instead of never helping another table out because she had to keep running back and forth for us), and the grande finale was taking us back stage to be with the latest Shamu (little known fact is that the orginal Shamu was in California and whichever is the largest killer whale they now call Shamu). We had the trainers meet and talk to us for at least 6o minutes, all the while they had their largest whale doing tricks, feeding, getting rubbed down, etc. I was hoping for a kiss, but unfortunately didn't get one (don't get me wrong though that trainer was cute --- he didn't have anything to hide though in that wet suit).

We even rented some bumper boats with water cannons as Reese and I took on Jon and Natedog (the paddle boats without water cannons weren't big fans of ours as we blasted them but it was fun for us). One more anectdote going back to Anna's wondering about my persuasion, it was gay day or gay weekend in Orlando this weekend too. You are supposed to wear a red shirt I'm told to show your pride. Well I wore a red shirt not realizing that was the case and borrowed a friend's camera because I lost my charger. The camera was her daughter's, quite the cute little pocket camera, and a beautiful pink/purple color I was told. I didn't even know it but I was showing off my gay pride too.

On Sunday last weekend we were at the resort, just got done with a day of swimming, playing, feasting at the Rainforest Cafe, and were getting ready to go to Sea World again for a couple of hours (we stayed only a mile from there) when I was checking my cellular for the time. I noticed the date, it was the 7th of June. I'd been so busy it had not even dawned on me that Hope passed away exactly 6 months ago. I have not had my wife or a mother for my children for 6 months, one-half of a year. I just lost it. I felt the fog coming back over me that it's taken almost 6 months to let pass, I couldn't think straight, was cold, upset, could not even talk at first, and just sobbing. I called a couple of different friends, talked to my mom, just didn't know what to do. I eventually calmed down, talked to the kids about why I was so sad, and as they always do because I never hide my feelings from them they comforted me. They didn't cry while I was inconsolable at moments, but they kept telling me it would be okay, held my hand, got me tissues, Nathan rubbed my back a bit, Reese hugged me softly as he so often does, and I genuinely started to feel better. We even ended up making it to Sea World later and had a great night. The moon was full, we watched Shamu Rocks followed by gorgeous fireworks that reached up close to Hope.

I see my psycho again tomorrow, but I feel good about how upset I got and then how quickly the boys helped me feel better. I have plenty to talk about as always, that's never been a problem for me. Natedog started basketball and I'm coaching his team again. His first game is this Saturday. He was at cub scout camp for the first week off from school, and zoo camp this week. Tomorrow after camp he's going to a 7-year old girl's birthday party. You should have seen the 3 wise boys at 8:45 PM tonight with "the store is closing" warnings being repeated and stare downs from the employees as we sifted through the Hannah Montana wear. We settled in on a beach theme including a pink Roxy beach bag, flowery flip flops, and a cool Roxy hat (Whitney don't let Kylie read my blog --- actually no kids should read my blog). When I got home Lindsey from next door came over and gave us the okay on the gifts but man it's tough shopping for women --- no matter what the age. My mom's birthday is in September, any advice out there??? Reese has always had a spot on his lip since birth that the pediatrician said not to worry about. Now the dentist is worried because of Hope's history so I have to take Reese on Friday to her same ENT (Ear Nose Throat) doc that did many of her surgeries and she became so incredibly close to. I mostly try not to think about it, there's no way I can go through this with the kids so I know Hope will help us get past this minor scare we'll forget about in a couple of months.

My necklace broke today that was the last present Hope gave me. It's the second time and luckily a good friend Judy sells jewelry and is hooking me up again with a replacement. I only mention this because I was devastated the first time it happened, and now this time I just took it in stride. I think that is one more sign of progress. Speaking of progress, the Red Sox shut out the evil Yankees tonight 7-0 and the Magic came back strong to make the Finales a series again at 2 games to 1. Except for the Celtics, the Magic are my second favorite team but I always root for whoever is playing the Lakers (only the Yankees are more hated in the Wise household, and it's close between the two teams). My brother is coming this Friday and staying for just over a week. He and I have a tradition we missed last year for obvious reasons of the two of us taking a long man's weekend with just us. We are heading south with no plans at all, no reservations, just an opportunity to do whatever the hell we want to do. I think it's exactly what both of us need, me especially. I can't wait, I can't freaking wait!

As long as I can keep up my priorities, I'll keep blogging. I truly love it, was surprised and happy to hear from so many that were worried about us because I had not been blogging, and it does truly help me. I'm not back yet, but for the first time think I'm truly getting there the right way --- slowly and "step by step" (by the way does anyone remember that sitcom that was truly one of the worst of all time?). Except for sports, I still haven't watched any TV since before Hope passed away, still have not gone through the pantry, her closet, her clothes, her purse, her night stand, taken off my wedding ring, taken off my HOPE bracelet, slept on her side or the middle of the bed, taken her razor, soap or shampoo out of the shower, or even cancelled her cellular phone even though I pay for it every month. I have rearranged the pool deck a bit, am planning some more major landscaping and yard changes, I am using both towel racks, and am ready to do many of those other things now as time allows.

One last thing, I am sure because I was so emotional on Sunday night I had a dream about Hope coming and talking to me for the first time. I never remember my dreams but this time I did. In my dream she spoke to me directly, told me I was doing well, that she missed me, and assured me she was very happy. During the course of this conversation I swear to you I woke up and continued the conversation. I was wide awake for a while after that just rethinking the dream/connection with Hope. Maybe in my dream I was waking up but not in reality. Whatever it was, Hope communicating directly with me or otherwise, I know she's right. I'm doing better now although not where I want to be yet, I know she misses me and I feel the same, and I know she's happy. She is not suffering anymore and she is with us every moment. I love you like water Hope, please come visit me anytime. You promised to haunt me, and I'm following through with all my promises so far so it's on you now...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Relay for Life and Game 7

There are no two more magical words in sports than "Game 7" or "Swimsuit Issue" for any male sports fan!!! I have had a subscription to Sports Illustrated for about 2.5 decades now and I think the next Swimsuit issue will be as tough as Mother's Day for me (by the way I'm taking the kids to Disney for the first time in case you missed the last blog). Hope and I had a tradition that she would get the magazine first from the mail and then go through it and edit the pics. She would draw in stitches, eye patches, more bathing suit than I wanted to see, blackened teeth, or captions like "I despise global warming" or "You wouldn't have a chance with me anyway." I never enjoyed the Swimsuit issue as much as when she did that. It's amazing, while you miss the person so much it's the little things you miss more and when things like the Swimsuit issue come out you remember some of your favorite memories about the dumbest but most important little things. This year no blacked out teeth, no eye patches, no bikinis turned into a one piece, but at least I have the Celtics and Red Sox (don't get me wrong, I'm not turning gay yet despite Anna's urging---not that there's anything wrong with that!).

Two words, Game 7 BABY! Okay that was 3 but once again as the Celtics seem to always do they pulled out another game 7 (I had to watch it Sunday morning recorded from Saturday night because of Relay for Life --- more on that in a minute --- I would not take any text messages like from my brother, and when I answered the phone I would say, "Hello don't tell me anything about the game.") The Bulls were worthy, we were down our best overall player and our best big man off the bench but still prevailed like the Superfriends always found a way against the Legion of Doom. By the way my favorite Legion of Doom character (and do you really have a chance of being a positive influence with a name like that?) is Bizzarro Superman. He was all rigid like rock, could do everything Superman could do, but within 30 minutes he always escaped but was always defeated. I also love how they always had to explain what they were doing, almost like Captain Kirk over acting. "Must block out sun to take strength away from Superman, then must have lunch and remember to call Supergirl to see if she likes rocklike Superman." One more Superfriends side note, what's up with the Wonder Twins? You can only turn into water or an animal, and you don't pick a Tsunami and Superman everytime? And what the hell was Gleek, a monkey that did nothing but hit the wrong button every time they were in trouble? By the way, when we were growing up with 4 teenagers in the house at once all in high school we were particulary brutal to each other all the time which is why I'm sure nobody can hurt my feelings much anymore no matter what they say. But for some reason many people remember my nickname was Clucker. That evolved from Gleek (yes the same Wonder Twins monkey), then Gleeker, and then Clucker. Many have asked over the years so now you know.

Since the C's had no legs for 2.5 quarters to go down by 28 points in game 1 of the next round against the Magic, then roared back to be within a Ray Allen jumper that rimmed out of one of the greatest come backs in history. Tonight we took care of business, and meanwhile my Red Sox are 5-0 (that's right freaking 5-0) against the evil Yankees with two wins being more amazing then any I can remember (that the good guys won) in the history of the greatest rivalry in sports.

While the C's and Sox were making me proud, we had our Relay for Life event from Saturday at 8 AM until Sunday at 8 AM. Cancer never rests so we did not either (okay I did a bit because I went home around 3 AM). Both boys had soccer games Saturday morning so we got to Relay around 1 PM. I brought Frisbees, soccer balls, footballs, etc. and there was already a bunch of kids there. So while everyone else walked laps I ran for hours playing ball with anywhere from 5 to 20 kids. We had a blast playing for hours. We even played some water balloon dodge ball (yes it is as good as it sounds), real dodgeball (apparently in our county this game is banned from schools which is criminal in my opinion---how else do you determine who will get to date in high school and who will be a loser with no friends without dodgeball??? Damn political correctness!), and then watch Just Jake run away from a dozen kids until he's caught out of pure exhaustion, taken to the ground, and in full Macho Man Randy Savage WWE style (or Sean Michaels for you younger readers) getting elbows like they were off the top rope.

Thanks to all of you, Hope and I (she was truly with me every step of the way) raised the most money by more than triple at almost $7500 and our team by far raised the most at over $17,000! The entire event doubled last years with over $60k. They had events throughout the 24 hours but a couple of my favorites was honoring all of the cancer survivors (Hope was a 3-time survivor for the record, how many people do you know that can say that???), the lumineria that included candle lit bags all the way around the track with friends/family names including Hope, and then in the two stadium seats the word "HOPE" on one side and "CURE" on the other lit up like the HOLLYWOOD sign in LA. The entire event was dedicated to Hope and another cancer victim with a big sign at the entrance including her name. They made the mistake of letting me speak to everyone, which was incredibly emotional. I kept it together and afterwards hugged my kids like I just came back from WWII. Those boys are all my strength, and I know Hope hung in there long enough for all of us to be ready to take things over just the three of us. When they let me speak to the crowd, I of course could not let go the opportunity to talk about how once you are diagnosed you have to instantly become an expert in the illness like when Hope was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I offered at no charge mind you to use my expertise to help others by providing breast inspections but nobody took me up on it. I am willing to extend the offer so any of you reading that are local or those that want to fly down I will continue to do so at no charge for the good of the people.

While everyone was incredibly gracious at the event, my highlight was two high school kids that tracked me down, said I inspired them with what my story, and they were honored to be part of the event. That got to me, two high school kids half my age (I know that freaking hurt to say because I still feel like I'm 18 most of the time) caring that much about a short impromptu speech someone gave. I've always been positive about everything, and events like this just bring out the best in everyone. They have asked me to chair the event next year, I think maybe I'll have to pass because I just can't keep up yet with my other activities like bills, work, the house, and the kids. Those are minor details, but still somewhat important don't you think???

I can feel myself struggling again lately, mostly getting to things that I would otherwise have taken care of. I'm not feeling sad or depressed, just not fulfilled or complete. Things like Natedog's school project, laundry, bills again are the worst because I think Hope always handled them, certain work things I just don't want to deal with like not making any money, blogging more, and getting back in touch with some friends. I know I'm a lucky guy, but I still don't have "it" back yet all the time. "It" is my drive, my passion, and what has brought me success in the past. Tonight when I was tucking Nathan in, we were talking to mommy as we always do when I started saying how much I miss Hope. Nathan was surprised by that (which shocked me when he said it), as he said Daddy you always seem to have such a good time and do so much I didn't think you always missed Mommy.

It broke my heart a bit, but I could see why he felt that way. I explained to him that I stay so busy so I'm not always sad but that certainly doesn't mean I don't always miss Mommy and that I'm not sad in the inside. I'm fooling my children, am I fooling myself too? I'm not sure, maybe I'm intentionally not getting things done to keep myself so busy and behind I can concentrate on that and not Hope. I've been so ridiculously social lately too that the kids ask me every day when I pick them up from school, who's coming over today Daddy or who's house are we going to? I need to find a better balance to be a better Dad, and that is the most important job I will ever have.

Maybe now is my game 7, my round 15 against the Russian in Rocky IV where "there's no pain and I have to punch and punch and punch until I can't punch no more", my final round of celebrity Jeopardy with Sean Connery on Saturday Night Live, the last two minutes of Superfriends before the uncomfortable joke that gives everyone a belly laugh but wasn't funny, or when the six-fingered man decided to turn and run after Anigo Montoya spent a lifetime learning to sword fight to finally track him down for revenge of his father's death in the Princess Bride. It's been 4 months, I need to step it up, no more excuses, no more turning and running from Anigo Montoya. Two magical words, "Game 7" (and don't forget "Swimsuit Issue"). Suck it up Jake, this is not a game or movie and the children are affected by every bit of success or failure now. I've never feared pressure, bring it on, I'll step up. Game 7 Baby!!!