Sunday, January 16, 2011

Denied

Thanksgiving came a couple of days later. A realization had started to sink in that I had been less than adequate at connecting with my extended family. My mother is the oldest of 12 children and I have so many cousins. I invited them all for Thanksgiving and they all said they would think about it but in the end none of them came. It occurred to me that I had failed quite poorly in establishing that link. I couldn’t quite figure out what was the issue. I’d been the photographer at a couple of their weddings. I’d been to almost every one of their houses for important reasons and for unimportant ones but almost none of them had been to mine despite this being the second Thanksgiving I’d invited them all. In those three weeks, lots of local and out of town friends had come in but besides my immediate family, I had only seen one aunt and uncle, Ceci and Luis. I was very embarrassed that I hadn’t made this bond more broadly.
This was reflected when I realized I had several different invitations from friends and 1 from family. I had moved away from where everyone lived and it just reminded me that the relationships we’re good at don’t come down to trite phrases like “blood is thicker than water” but like muscles; the ones you work on are the ones you build and the ones that you are more likely to injure, the ones you don’t work on may not get injured but they will atrophy.
I started the day less than 3 weeks after the biopsy by running in the Turkey Trot. While initially in the hospital I thought there was no way I’d get to it but by then, I was committed to going out there. I went out there relatively slow…for all of a quarter mile and then I turned it on. I ended up finishing in the top 100 hundred out of over 17,000 runners or 4000 timed whichever way you want to see it at a 6:15 pace for a 5 mile course. Those muscles weren’t atrophied and I wasn’t intending to let them become so. With that in mind, shortly after the race I emailed, called, and/or texted various family members to start working on some those atrophied muscles. Family is ultimately what you make of it and I wanted to keep growing my family. I had done it through great friends and I needed to work on growing it more organically and biologically.
In the end, we went over to the neighbors Rick and Laurie’s for the meal and had a great time. One of my favorite things about this holiday is the fact that people get to share what they are grateful for. When it was my turn to say, I said something that I was grateful for: that 2010 was the best year of my life. People still think I’m in denial because I say things like that but I simply contend that it is unusual that good and bad cancel each other out. In 2010, My wife and I had connected better than we ever had, Kiana and I had as well, we’d traveled a lot, my wife had gotten a new job and until this thing there simply hadn’t been any serious problems. If denial meant I thought I didn’t have cancer, well that was basically untrue. If denial meant that I refused to make it the center of my life and wallow in self pity or drown in worrying, then I was going to embrace denial with both arms.

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