Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Maze of Grace

Luckily, the grace kept being amazing. I reached out for help in a way that I never had before in my life (and frankly hope never to need to again). Some friends said they were willing to help but they honestly didn't know how and I had no clue how to direct them. There were some little things like some friends just letting you vent, there was my friends Barbara and Meetesh who showed me some of the things they had done to let their house be more kid friendly for their child as they got to Kiana's age, they also inspired me to put in a pull up bar and told me to pull myself up when feeling bad (in a very short time I really increased how many I could do simply from following their advice). My friend Chad talked me into committing to going to Duke, something I honestly considered walking away from and not knowing what my long term prognosis is was because depressingly I kept wondering why it mattered anymore. Friends from the running group knowing that I worked well with deadlines and commitments would get me to commit to making the running group knowing that my word to them would get me there even if I had no desire to run. A friend of mine Russell from the Ship of Fools sponsored my first 5k, which I would win. Friends from ultimate, high school kids on a team called HIP talked me into playing a tourney with them (which we won), a friend from Vancouver flew me up there to spend the weekend with him. He was also a single father and we traded some stories and ideas. Lonely times were there but it was good to not do them alone.

I was confused about how life had nearly been ripped out of my head and hands in a literal sense and then how much more of it had been ripped out of my head and heart in a far worse sense. But slowly I kept re prioritizing and started doing things that made me be grateful that I was still alive. I made a list of people I had wronged in any significant way and called them to apologize, taking a therapeutic tip from the alcoholics anonymous approach. As the divorce negotiations continued, I let go things that were financially as much as I thought was reasonable and argued for things like having the first Thanksgiving apart with my daughter, the first Christmas apart, her first Easter apart, her first Spring Break. I had tried so hard to get back to my family but my wife has still had left. Still, I tried to grasp firmly that value that family is what gave survival meaning. I got actually all of those without much arguement and gave up some financial stuff figuring money was by far a much smaller thing to argue about. It's odd how growing up poor made being willing to be less financially prepared so stressful after the diagnosis and so easy after the surgery in the divorce conversations.

I got the tattoo that I had decided to get, a lion family redesigned to where now it was only the lion and the lion cub. Several friends would make a similar joke that I eventually would echo, that's how it had to be because the Lioness had gone hunting. The original tattoo artist had moved out of town and the new one that I talked to upon seeing what I wanted redesigned said "Oh it'll be better with just the two anyway." I think she meant that in the design and artistically but it was tough to not absorb it in other ways. I did this on our 10th anniversary and it was heart breaking because every other anniversary we had both taken the day off and spent it together and now I was symbolically and literally getting meaningful things in my life designed where she wasn't there.

But in the symbolic way that I lived I went through that day and dropped off thank you cards for the worker at the Livestrong Foundation and other key individuals around town because they had not only been meaningful to help me survive but stayed there and kept checking after.

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