Thursday, October 2, 2014

The End of Time and Space

There's an old riddle I loved when I was only a few years older than Kiana:

What's the beginning of eternity,
The end of time and space,
The beginning of every end
And the end of every race?

While someone once pointed out to me that reading this blog I come across a lot deeper than I actually am, I was nowhere near thinking deeply at a young age, look at the riddle closely . While there are simple questions with complicated answers but this one is the opposite, it's a simple answer, the letter E.

As I got and get into adulthood, it turns out the world is not quite as simple as the letter E (though perhaps the solution to many my problems is nothing more than finding a special someone whose name begins and ends with the letter E.) I get notices about the various different awareness months October is from domestic violence to Hispanic awareness to breast cancer awareness to brain cancer awareness. Some of those things are more complex than we like to admit but my brain isn't capable of all of that.

So on the days when I get it right, I've tried to focus on the simple solutions and it turns out that they are easy to comprehend for me and Kiana and even my dog puppy. That doesn't mean that every time I exercise them is executed well. But I did find some comfort in some pieces of today. It was not the best day in some ways; I had the worst training run I'd had in a couple of years. While it would take someone to get me to be better at trying to get any good at being big spoon getting into a car accident was not a fun way to be rear ended.

But I am relieved and excited for a good lady is getting her final chemo injection and I wonder if the reality of all has quite sunk in yet. At the same time, there's a friend who spend all day in treatment and likely has a few months left whose enjoying what can probably be best described as a life of sin. There's another cancer friend who it recently metastasized into a stage 4 but while she shared it with her online friends, she quickly and intelligently pointed out to everyone who was suddenly offering to visit her to be with her well past October and initial treatment and that she was always going to be more than cancer.

Perhaps my favorite and least favorite moment of it all though was with someone who while we first knew each other professionally has become a friend. My friend, Pam Leblanc, whose father is dying has been sitting with him regularly in his hospice.  She's a reporter who wrote two stories about me, one about the marathon I won with Kiana, the other about the first time I skipped the Austin marathon to run the Paramount 5k with Kiana, her first 5k. We've traded a few messages as they did various treatments to try to buy time but now it's just two to three weeks top; these things are never quiet exact. I have no good role model of what to do with when friends are in these situations. On my tough days with cancer or with anything, sometimes I've had friends who were there with an ear, others who were there with a beer, and others who provided the shoulder on which to shed a tear. There's days that are so full of frustration that even I, an extreme extrovert, know that there's no solution other than taking some time and space and that the only good company really is a muffin. Sometimes I hide in a song or a run or writing here.

But the right moments in my life are every once in a while confirmed even if it's in heartbreaking fashion.  Both Pamela and her father have led exciting lives of their own separately as adults but she said that while it was shitty to be dealing with this with her father, she was glad to be reminiscing with him. And in that reminiscing, Pamelas realized, remember, was grateful for the amazing times, and how awesome it was to be part of them. I've seen her posts of the adventures she's had all over doing sports things and see her fit city article is always a happy motivating piece. But it was interesting to hear her say that he's probably the reason why she's a fitness reporter because they would do trips to dinosaur tracks or canoeing he built her curiosity. In due time, she would be the one dragging him to write stories about boats or parks.Who that woman is and that they are reminiscing here I think shows parenting at its best because they were building each other's character, interests and relationship. I can only imagine that the reason she caught the picture of Kiana and I so well is because she'd had a father who'd tried to be there for her as I hope I'm doing. Not all people get the luxury of reminiscing and having that much announcement of an exit but  with that said, we all get the chance to make some memories together.

This is my hope, my dream for my best relationships. I've certainly tried to do that as a dad; don't get me wrong I am trying to give Kiana time and space to grow her own wings even at 7 years of age. I loved the 5k races we've done together but I've also loved watching her do her own Spartan races. But those are like my marathons race and special occasions. I've taken time to watch her do her homework and her reading. In the last few days alone, I've gotten to watch some of her progress. Some of it was certainly helped by the right adults in her life but she was the lead fundraiser for her 2nd grade class which led her to be a dinosaur ambassador at a much cooler exhibit than I ever saw in school (is that because the dinosaurs were still alive when I was a kid?). Last year before we started running together as disciplined, she went to the school how much can you run in 40 minutes and did 2.25 miles. This year she did three and a half and earned a pedometer for it (I only ran 1 lap with her, the rest were with her friends while I cheered). Today she had a small solo as part of a school musical that was all about standardized testing (somehow I think the lion king's audience is safe for now) but she was beaming through the entire half hour of it enough to where I said to her music teacher that if Kiana goes into Broadway, I'll blame, I mean thank her for it. And I am incredibly grateful not just that she's doing it or that I get to hear her describe it but that I've gotten to be there for so much of it.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that whether my time to go is tomorrow or at age 84, if there is an after life I'll be sticking my tongue out at anyone who does things in memory or in honor of me. Everyone has to deal with death or loss in their own way and I'm not criticizing how anyone else copes with that. But anyone who wants to do right by  me when my death comes, don't do anything in memory of me, do something in memory with me at the next possible opportunity and then forget about me when I die.

The psychology major could quote some studies that have confirmed over and over that those who are happiest in life are those who focus their money and time on experiences not on things. Those are my favorite people, the one you get smart enough to realize that every once in a while you shut down too much thinking, conversation and just go feel good about getting some follies together. Some of those will be events where you see why we invented fancy clothes by people who are dressed in whatever the new black is or are impressed by people who do it just by walking in the room in jeans and a t-shirt.

It's why while I've made friends at every single trip, I also try to take someone with with me each time (when you have a not fully functioning brain it helps one who has a working brain to help get it all together). And it's why when I try to bring something back, I try to make it something that's more like an experience, a "bear" of soap. Or like Vermont maple syrup that you can share waffles with together because even if they couldn't come up on the trip, you get to bring back an experience of the trip with them, to find a way to bring back the time and space you had apart and find a way to make it together.

There is no one who has all of their experienced shared with one person. Even if someone were to be next to you or right behind or in front of you every day of your life (and would that be creepy), the path can never be exactly the same. Still I think stories don't mean a thing if you've got no one to tell them to. And to me, they are usually better when you're reminiscing together about the magic and music and laughter that you absorbed side by side. I think part of the reason that the woman in Idaho who won the marathon and broke the course record and part of the reason I got a PR out there was because we ran side by side for most of the race. There's actually a paragraph I added at that speech in Idaho

"There are people who think running, running is a solitary sport and maybe it is. But for me, it’s like some of the best and worst realities in life where I realize as I step into a machine or onto a course that some of life can only be done alone. And some of those medical tests or those training runs where you’re on your own can be incredibly lonely. But the training is often the work but races to me are always a reward. On the course it’s only so much time before someone’s running next to you, or when there’s someone cheering, when someone’s handing you water along the course, when you get a medal saying way to not quit, to keep going till the finish. My journey is one that often feels so alone but those connections during races help part of life be a shared experienced where somehow, like in life, even if you are alone, and I am alone, at least for those shared moments we can be alone together."

So this is where I hope to start my everything and what my hope, my every choice and love will end with (see what I did there with the letter E?). That yes of course you sometimes have to take time and space to figure out your thoughts and feelings but that in the scheme of it all, I hope that I will choose to always also do conscious time and space alone together.

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