I have had a privileged life...perhaps a rough start, perhaps a rough end's coming and it's definitely had some rough middle points but there are very few days I'd exchange no matter what anyone offered to trade in for them, certainly the ones where I've damaged people in any way but I can't think of any others.
But no matter how bad any day has gone, there hasn't been a day without privileges. Oddly enough walking around a store I realized Christmas decorations were already up (are you kidding me?!? we hadn't even gotten past Columbus day or as Seattle calls it indigenous people day). Nonetheless, I started thinking about my Christmas ornament for the year since I always hang one up on Christmas Eve representing the most important event of the year. It was the first year in my life where I had to have an argument over the many choices 2014 has presented. (I think I figured it out but we'll leave possibilities open for a December blog).
But yesterday was 6 months since I started driving again and the first time I went a full year without a seizure since 2010. (How does a guy with my memory issues remember that? While I do have an app on my phone that keeps track of how many days since one particular event and how many days till some very important events, and I even have events in there as far forward right now as March 4th, I must confess that this particular one I knew was close but I was reminded of it by one thing, and one thing alone: as soon as I got cleared to drive I got insurance for my car by the next day so it was because of an auto draft from every six months). With it having been reminded that way, there could not have been a way to celebrate that had any planning to it plus they'd taken a few hundred dollars out of my bank account.
Still while there are ceremonial things I've gotten to be part of from podiums to gigantic checks to graduations... well those are more appropriate because they represent significant accomplishments that culminate in a reward. This seizure free time really is just marking the passage of time from when we maximized the anti seizure meds in December 2013 and them having worked entirely since then. This wasn't anything I worked towards really; it was just medication being effective so how often do you really celebrate the changing of a calendar month on your kitchen wall besides turning the page? Fall may be the year's last significant smile but...
Luckily, the day celebrated itself for me. It was a holiday and so Kiana and I got to spend all of it together, creating a heart shaped frame, writing some thank you notes, watching a Doctor Who episode. We have been riding together since I taught her how to ride a bicycle when I had learned to do so getting ready for the first Livestrong Century (it takes a sweetheart to notice that maybe part of the reason I like this parenting thing so much is because we might just be doing childhood together). While Kiana has gotten bigger, the stroller for her to ride in comes out less and less. We started doing it earlier this year where she would ride next to me while I trained but the simple truth is that it was more about jogging with her because between dodging bushes that go around sidewalks and crossing streets, we weren't going very fast. But on that one year anniversary, well, I took her to a park that has a one mile loop around it and let's just say that the days of me slowing down running while Kiana is on the bike are over... (She ran a mile loop afterwards on her feet and I still got her beat on that!)
This was followed by a parent teacher conference. I've said over and over that my parenting philosophy is first you gotta give kids roots then you gotta give them wings... Kiana's learning to fly at a heartbreaking speed. There are those heartfelt moments where she shows both her independence and her attachment saying she wants to live at this house forever which I responded with saying that eventually she'll want to have her own place as an adult so she can make her own rules. She said she'd eventually just buy this house and ignore my rules... I smiled internally and externally when she said that.
But at the parent teacher conference moment I was (mostly) proud. The teacher showed me some work she had done including one piece that Kiana was apparently the only one in the entire class to solve. We talked about how she likes to help kids and how her teacher can even tell when she's willing to help people that "she's not really friends with." She's certainly not a perfect kid and sometimes there are times where the fact that she's an only child shows as she's not using to having to share some time and attention as regularly as I and kids with more siblings do. Perhaps the heart breaking moment was the one part of her work that I didn't get to keep, a story she's been working on. she wrote it like a fairy tale where she was a princess with a prince named Adam who was afraid of everything (and once he knows I know about the story, he'll be afraid of more; just kidding). When she started writing that story, I brought out the contract she signed last year and reminded her that this was the only thing stopping me from converting to Catholocism and making her become a nun. But her teacher thought her story was well written. (Her teacher might have also mentioned where Adam sat, that he was also one of the gifted and talented kids, a handsome polite young boy who was also one of the top sellers in her class since Kiana was the highest sell. He sits next to her. I think most men end up with girls who are better than them since they're the superior gender but if Kiana doesn't become a nun that will be true no matter who she decides to settle for. I called my contacts at the NSA and he is on a watchlist now of kids to not let near Kiana. Again, just kidding).
And while there have been some people trying to pay some nice compliments about Kiana and her various achievements by using a phrase that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Some of her artistic pursuits would show you none of that comes from me. Let me be clear while I hope that Kiana always pursues and thinks of things that are noble, lovely and excellent, I am not trying to get her to be like me; I am hoping she grows and finds a way to be her own person that knows how to balance sharing and helping life in a humble way (humble being defined not by thinking less of her self but by think of her self less).
If you want to make Freud turn in his grave about his Oedipus complex (or what is it that you do in your grave when you're happy), a couple of people have suggested that hopefully she ends up with someone like me. Let me be clear: I would be more disappointed than that (yes Adam, you win one here). I mean for crying out loud if there's any where that the thinking should win over the feelings ,if there's any logic in my George Clooney ways, is what would any parent say, myself included, if their daughter came and said, hey dad I've fallen for a single unemployed dad with brain cancer... yeah there may be some romantic movies in life but it would take one hell of a communicator to write a happy story to that film. Somewhere with both the moments of how "independent" she'll try to be when she reaches adolescence and with the fact that there's danger out there like kids named Adam, I couldn't resist making the joke to my friend that well if I die young, there will be some stress I avoid from being a father to watching a little girl growing up.
We'll worry about those days if and when they arrive. I just still want to take each day as a special invitation of its own. There will still be big days with medals and ceremonies, I get the privilege of being at various events with the Livestrong challenge this weekend. I get to run the New York marathon in less than 3 weeks and return to Beaumont the weekend after that to run the 10k and hand out medals to the half marathon participants. But with the passage of a few months of driving, a year without seizures, a quarter of the school year with parent teacher conference, the only way I got here was one day at a time, one step at a time, I am thankful I celebrated life returning to being more normal by letting life be more normal.