Sunday, December 29, 2013

Softer, Stronger, Grateful

While lifting at the rec center this morning…listening to Regina Spektor.  Probably the only person listening to Regina Spektor…

She sings this haunting melody…"You'll want to go back, You'll wish you were small, Nothing can slow the crying, You'll take the clock off the wall, And you'll wish it was lying…Love what you have and you'll have more love…"

We take the kids to the Brittenhams and they have an amazing time.  We eat lunch and the kids play.  We get to meet beautiful baby Caleb.  We all love to spend time with them. 

Then we come home…do chores, eat dinner, put the kids to bed.  And while I am in bed holding Meara tight…waiting for her to drift to sleep…my mind drifts to the morning that my Mom called me to say that Ben made it to heaven.

We were up in the mountains staying at a fellow teacher's condo.  She had offered it to us as a getaway after a long difficult year after Meara's first brain resection.  We had arrived the night before.  Barely settled in, my Mom called first thing in the morning to let me know that Ben passed away in the night.  I was in a state of shock…even though I knew deep down this day was to arrive at any moment.  Megan encouraged me to take the bike for the ride I had already planned up Vail pass.  It was a 2,000ft climb on bike path through mother nature's pure beauty.  Through tears and sweat I made it to the top only to receive a phone call from my Dad…we were both crying and unable to put together coherent sentences…trying to come to an agreement as to how soon we fly home.  Then I headed back down the path…to face the inevitable.

So I am in bed tonight holding our precious, courageous daughter, thinking of June 20th…thinking of the day I lost my brother in the physical form.  Thinking of Regina Spektor and her haunting words.  Thinking of how vivid the memories can be.  Even the judge's chambers in Brevard County where Ben's adoption became official.  I remember the really long table and the robe the judge was wearing.  I remember my Grandpa Lenie wore a suit.  I remember we were proud.  We were honored to have this little boy become a part of our family.

I think of Meara's incredible life history up to this point.  Nine hospital stays.  Three brain surgeries, two resections, ten months of the ketogenic diet, and countless highly intimidating anti-seizure medications that never truly worked.  Five years of interrupted sleep.

And you know the only thing I can come to is this…"love what you have, and you'll have more love."  That's it.  No race, no accomplishment, no happiness within arms reach if I can manage to work hard enough for it.  That's all some made up story…it's fiction.  A heartless tale.

Happiness is right here.  It's right here.  Don't even have to reach for it.  It's not dependent on anything I can manage or control or achieve.  I choose love…and I'll have more love.  That's it.  Unbelievable.  Thirty-five years old and it took me this long.  

I have my brother to thank, my daughter to thank, my beautiful, strong, and resilient wife and family to thank, and my loving friends and students to thank.  

Love…so simple.

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