Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Steer by the Stars

As the Duke follow up came closer, I realized that maybe I was having my worse nightmares about cancer come true. When first diagnosed the thing that I talked to the most that night about was the possible emotional, spiritual and financial impact that my dying/vegetabilizing could have on my family. I worried that my daughter would lose all of those resources from having both of her parents daily to only having one’s time, only one of their incomes, and dealing with their loneliness from the other one being gone. Well, this fear came true but it wasn’t cancer that took this away, it was divorce. People say that divorce is only superseded by the death of a spouse; maybe this is true but they have to be pretty close if it reflects my emotions at all. I was pretty heart broken that all the fears I had would still come true in Kiana’s life but that instead of by some random bad luck of the universe, cancer that it was because of her parents mistakes and with something that I am still slowly trying to let go of the anger and hurt, that there was no attempt try to fix the marriage and address her complaint. With all of that said, however, I was grateful at some level to be the parent who would pretty much a daily presence in her life since the divorce decree had her mother essentially taking standard visitation of 1st, 3rd and 5th weekend. My attorney friend JoAnn Torrez, who helped for free due to my medical problems, pointed out that while the legal jargon may be joint legal custody, that I should find comfort that for all practical matters I would be the one raising Kiana. She added that it was clear I had a grateful heart through all of this. A few people would mention like that and I hope it’s true because that’s certainly not the way I felt many days. Many days my heart just felt heavy.

The divorce would get finalized in late July; to stand up for my beliefs the divorce decree stated that I thought this decision would be emotionally, financially and spiritually damaging to our child but that I respected her right to make the decision. It was literally the day before I flew out back to the East Coast for a weekend with friends and then Duke on Monday. The mother friends who were shocked by the fact that the divorce had happened in record time from someone stating how much they loved their husband to them in private and public forms to someone who moved out in the middle of one night without saying anything to anyone; this group of friends were even more shocked that it had occurred without no real fight for custody (I feared then, and still now, that this will eventually just turn into Kramer vs Kramer but if life has taught me anything in the last year it’s that it’s completely unpredictable so no need to live in fear). More than one of those mothers knew that the Duke appointment was literally a few days after the date of the divorce decree and wondered why she hadn’t put it off till at least those results were in. She, as lots of other people knew, that if any of those tentacles or the center mass showed any growth that I would likely have less than 18 months to live. Why hadn’t she waited a week or two more to get divorced they asked and I’m not sure that it’s something I’ll ever be able to wrap my mind around. I did try to adequately represent my new priorities by skipping the court setting for divorce but not just going to work, as if it were “a normal day.” Rather I volunteered at Kiana’s school and helped them set up something they’d been meaning to get around to, making all communication electronic to be more efficient and greener. It was somehow comforting to realize that while my wife was leaving me and signing away the primary right to possession of her time and some of her rights with Kiana that I was trying to make Kiana's school and her life a better place but there was a bit of embarrassment when some of the staff watched me just break down and cry when I realized the love of my life had signed those things and that "love" away.

I kept reading two quotes that day: 1) All of us get lost in the darkness; dreamers learn to steer by the stars. 2) Good friends are like stars; you can’t always see them but you know they are always there. So I knew that for a while, I’d have to dream and steer by good friends and that my life would be lit up by Kiana, my moon goddess, the brightest spot in a dark night. So I cried myself to sleep one last time and then the next day got on a plane to see what the long term prognosis would be and if anything had grown back, hoping that Kiana would be robbed of only one parent and not both back to back.

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