There is one small part of the Gusher marathon story that’s never been told. I threw up very shortly after the finish and the marathon director sent medical team who hung out with me while I was over the trash can and one the shipmates who had done the half hung out with Kiana while it happened. The EMT sat there as I was over the trash can and he said very little of medical consequence. While clearly keeping an eye on me, he said hey let me know if you need any more help otherwise, I’m just trying to let you enjoy the dignity of a win. I went to the trash can and threw up one more time and hung out over it… and well I’m sure he and anyone who was watching thought I was hanging wondering if it was more vomit, it was to get my composure because that was one of the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me and I immediately teared up and managed to keep that down even if I couldn’t keep my digestion down. A few seconds later and in a cracked voice that I imagine he assumed was from the throwing up and about the medical attention, I quietly said thank you. And that kind statement was as good as the cheering at the finish line, as the presentation of the medals and as meaningful if not more so than the media coverage that would come out of it.
So today in court, a few someones texted me “so did you win?” There’s been enough written about all this to realize that I am a guy who has a competitive side and have let frustration out in runs, races and gotten pr’s after a cancer diagnosis. Some have wondered if this is a vengeful side but I think the universe is clear on who you should let vengeance belong to and it’s not yourself. But if I’m challenged directly, as you can read in race reports, I don’t talk smack back but…but I do internalize competition to try to win. And because these have been court cases where the requests have been so radically different that there wasn’t much of a middle ground to take. I am a volunteer mediator, believing that reasonable adults sitting in the same room with someone to help redirect emotion can make better decisions. But both Kiana’s mother and her boyfriend when they started their court cases refused mediation (Kiana’s mother would eventually be at one and then after coming to an agreement tried to “appeal it” (not legally possible)). Being reasonable with unreasonable people… is at best difficult.
Still in court, the judge reprimanded us all, explained that this was immature, that none of us appeared to be working in the best interests of the child and that cases like this were why he’d stayed out of family court. The hearing took less time than I do a 5k in and the judge said that I should be a better father than to conduct myself this way in front of my daughter and let the other parties know that they should have the wisdom to park across the street and not connected to my property (something that has been done since this incident). He wondered out loud why this was the 2nd or 3rd setting this had been addressed in (it’s actually the 4th or 5th. With that said, while I have walked in nervous, I have never walked out frustrated at one of the legal settings despite it being in front of 4 judges, 2 DA’s, 3 policemen, 3 mediators. Criticize the legal system as you see fit but I worked in it for several years and while there have been some errors, I think over all, courts have a good batting average. Please keep in mind that’s coming from a guy who appropriately got fired for making memory mistakes in court which could affect legal consequences for other). But what his family or moral preferences were, I think the judge knew where Texas law stands and he summarily let the case be dismissed… which I suppose you could call a victory for me as this small claims court case has cost me no money and only time. But even if you “win,” in these type of adversarial court settings to me, there is no dignity in it.
Because I know, I know that if statistical realities come true about this cancer and if he and Kiana’s mother succeed in a longer term relationship (something that would also defy statistics but less dramatic ones), that he will be the primary male raising my daughter in due time (yes, that scares the daylight out of me). And even if I happen to be part of the minority that beats this cancer we’d be better off acknowledging that we’re stuck in each other’s lives… I believe that like the bad things in my life, my disease, my seizures, that they will need some intervention to be fully successful. I believe that like the good things in my life, the athletic achievements whether they be biking, running, or obstacle coursing, I’ll need directions from people more familiar like my coaches or better athletes. It is my hope, my prayer that this is where we go… to counseling or mediation or even just a conversation with friends instead of judges to try to re-establish incredibly shattered trusts and relationships. It was eery and comforting to hear the judge echo exactly what my previous blog said and what I hope some we will all be in the same joint page about that we should not be focused on petty things but on a child.
And then the friend who is the executor of my will, Todd, drove me home. And he and I discussed different viewpoints on the case and perhaps showing why he has legal authority in my life and why he’s the executor of my will, he said that the judge’s impression was that I had been morally at fault for how I carried myself in front of my daughter… And he also reprimanded me for losing my temper and being less than appropriate in front of my daughter. Removing someone by force from my property who’d been told not to be there multiple times… well do you really tell your child that force is never necessary? There’s not a single city, state or country in the entire planet where legal reality holds that as true. But still, the way I handled things that day was far far less than adequate, far less than mature, and I’ve said many times I’m not proud of it but perhaps my statement that I should have no apologies for it is too much. But I dare to dream that now that legal settings are part of the past that somewhere in the future, the people who share part of Kiana’s household at different times will learn to be a better team. Or perhaps more appropriately phrased, we should learn to be a team period. I’ve tried to do it in things like having Kiana take an art and craft she got yesterday and while she didn’t think of it to have it be something she takes to mom’s house. And I do have an easier time doing it for someone who is her mother and I committed to loving till my dying day. But I’ve put next to no effort in doing it with her mother’s boyfriend so maybe it’s time to start that. While some of that will be as hard to keep down as vomit was during Gusher, I believe if we can do it, we will have a win towards Kiana’s dignity.