Monday, October 28, 2013

The Beauty of Family

There's an old saying that home is where when you go there, they have to let you in. Since that's true, perhaps the wisest sense of home in my view, it's good to have a home. Because home is where family is... where we belong... where the connection is one we're blessed to be stuck with.  Maybe it's just the logistics of birth and genetics but I really think that the human approach that we're generally stuck with those who are responsible for our being born is a very good thing. (I'm not naive and cancer patients like me have it easy compared to people who grew up in less than adequate homes and families that by far the healthiest thing they can do is get away from them and find literally or symbolically "adopted family" but even the adopted friends I have are among the most intent on making healthy connection).
Even as a couple more invitations have come to speak and/or run different places... I am both grateful and confused for the opportunities that have come from all this.  While I imagine the ride will end soon, I've passed down a couple of cool invitations because though they tried their insurance wouldn't cover a stroller (I also passed up one in Vegas that they'd let me do with a stroller but don't really think that's a fun city for Kiana and come on if I"m going to sin city, I'm going to sin). I had a gym thing I won but all the classes were in the evenings Kiana's with me or at 5:30 in the morning so... that was that. I hope and trust I can continue making sure it doesn't interrupt family time in an already split custody household keeps being my north star (let me keep reemphasizing that since I've been reprimanded for thinking no one should ever get a babysitter, it's that I have a built in babysitter some evenings and every other weekend because I screwed up my marriage). Last Thursday, there was a cancer event I was asked to be at, my running group meets on Thursday and Kiana's school had their fall festival (PC translation Halloween). It took the guy with a damaged brain no thinking time at all to decide which one to go because the only reason the runner and cancer survivor identities matter is for relationships, being a dad being my primary one. And like the other two, I am not anywhere near the best at any identity without conscious direction, time and effort. 

And I want to believe, dare to dream that it matters. Kiana and I went to go do her marathon kids workout where while we were doing quarter mile repeats on a sidewalk near the street,  she stopped in the middle of it to pick a flower to put in my hair. We come home and do homework each night and she got to be on the honor roll for her first 9 weeks ever and she recognized the excellence by wanting an extra treat instead of the one per day. She must have picked up her sweet tooth from me because the simple truth is that almost every month when I go to pick up my monthly anti seizure prescription from Costco, I pick up some ice cream to go with it to help the idea of it all go down. Saturday night we carved some pumpkins...And we had some classmates that came over and helped out with Kiana and she carved three pumpkins, one with me, one for herself and one with her mother. I am lucky to have a great kid... I should call her what she reminded me: "I am not a kid. That's for goats. You can call me a child or a cub since I am a lion."

But see, even as I'm about to come out in a couple more media pieces for putting one foot in front of the other while raising a princess, it was good to be reminded that family provides the best realistic perspective. On the days someone hands me a magazine with an article or a picture of me, Kiana still expects me to make breakfast and still calls me out if I burn the pancakes. On the days, she comes home with straight A's, she still has to straighten out her room. On the days we do our hilliest race for 10 miles in the rain she still expects me to keep up with her at another Halloween party shortly after (though it was kind of amusing that the usual "faster daddy faster" turned into "can you go around the puddles please? I'm getting splashed"; of course I took the direction). Family is the best at reminding you of the blessing and curse of being human. On that 10 mile race, grandma was in town and she hung out with Kiana after we finished and I wanted to get some cool down miles in but I got to run in my family. I wish I could have ran them all in but rather than just do extra miles as I have with many races, I'd go back out and find someone and ask if it was okay to run in with them since those things have always helped me. I did it for several friends, mostly from the Ship that I've trained with since before this started but also with some that I coached (you better believe all the girls I ran in were cute and charming).

Anytime I have gotten to sit in a relaxed presentation... when we get to the Q&A portion of it, I raise my hand and go "what's the meaning of life?" continuing my role as a class clown and usually drawing laughter from the class. Many speakers have said, mostly with smiles, that class is down the hall or something similar but a few have taken shots at it. My answer that the meaning of life is life, and I don't mean just to stay alive since even cancer is trying to just stay alive, but to be living and contributing for something and someone. My fighting against is cancer wouldn't matter if I wasn't fighting for running and for several people, Kiana chief among them. And in the end, I am no more and no less than what and who I spend my time with. No one bats 100% but I am grateful that on the days I think I'm a total badass, family point out something that makes me laugh and remind me that oooh look you put one foot in front of the other really fast but you forgot to take out the trash. And on the days, I'm disappointed with a race or with myself that I have some of those family members who remind me they are still there and I smile. I love this time of year because as things kick in between Halloween (I mean fall festival) and Thanksgiving and the Holidays (I mean Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hannukah or Festivus) there's lots of times that are intentionally just for doing some fun, some relaxed, some cheesy things they remind you to hang out with great people and take in their presence in different ways (plus they all come with delicious fattening food  items!). But while these days are holidays (yes I know it's not holy days), I'm glad I get to regularly and year round keep spending time with friends and family... because nothing is more sacred to me.

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