Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Make You Feel My Love

When the rain is blowing in your face 
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace 

To make you feel my love

There is a wide variety of ways we deal with life and death... we talk more about the first from comparing validity of diets and politics and hobbies and habits. Perhaps its our way of avoiding or dealing with the latter. Sometimes we make them connected and people point you to studies that show that if you eat healthier or if you exercise more or if you go to church more or if you... you'll live longer. My standard response because so often it's a give up this or switch to this to expand your lifestyle is a simple joke, "Do vegans/church goers/married people/marathoners really live longer or does it just seem longer?"

We support each other in hard times as best as we know how and I'll be the first to admit that at 30 when I got cancer I was wholly inadequate to know how to deal with it (I'm now only mostly inadequate). I went on a life tour visiting as much of where I was from to say goodbye to everyone finishing meals with them with the sadly eloquent line "I don't know if the guy going in is the same one coming out but this one loves you guys." I did those trips on my own; that aspect was a mistake. 

Since then, I have realized life, life is better shared. Whether it's been the highest mileage week of my life where I did 88 miles, zero of them alone or the quiet moments where Elaine, Kiana and I are just sitting across a couch watching a dumb movie together or having long conversations about a range from the ridiculously insignificant to the as Kiana used to call it 'phisolophical,' I try to make people feel my love. I'm not always great at it, I'm not affectionate by nature but I try to show love and get better at doing it adequately. The simplicity of 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' or concepts like the five love languages show that there's a range of things. I try to not have it too complex or too simple, with no artistic capacity, there are 3 different places in the house where Kiana can draw too. With no real care about how fast I'm going or mileage, I just do some of Elaine's long runs with her. With both I talk smack about how they couldn't do better, something I would not do if it hadn't regularly resulted in their attempts to prove me wrong worked on their self improvement. 

I invite my parents to hang out at Mexican Independence Day and we all share some good things with music and food and of course we make sure we arrive at post racial bliss by just changing our outfits (nobody need not worry, we have fancy chopsticks and I have a Chinese style shirt for when I gotta celebrate my better half's holidays. In all seriousness, I've traveled all over the world with Elaine and there are very few places where one of us doesn't get looks and most places the fact that we're together gets us looks and it makes me appreciate that the world has gotten small enough to where I got to meet her and marry her). 

Despite my antimaterialistic approach, we indulge Kiana's cheesy halloween ideas by
buying a few more Halloween decorations. Some of the house remodeling was put in place so that all pantry shelves could be reached by Elaine. Some of it was so that my 14 year old dog had an easy path in and out of the house. But there is a small occurrence with her and a medium one with my wife and a large one within the cancer community that inspired this blog. I had her on a walk and was realizing that this dog who I've been with all her life and posted something to it on social media. For some reason a few people read my displaying of affection towards my dog somehow showed my sadness at her passing. If anything I was just impressed that she still had moments here and there where she was passing me to chase a squirrel in her old age. 

The large incident was of a brain tumor connection, Mahoney, who was a cyclist. He lived in Chicago so our in person connection was intermittent but we kept it mostly on social media cell phones and the internet. He was intent on beating this with this diet, that meditation approach, this cycling approach on fasting at this many watt. He shared with me ideas that he'd research about making yourself profoundly cold to make your system more resistant to this bacterial infection. A couple of days before the Livestrong 5k last weekend, he passed away. I've lived in different countries and how we mourn has a variety but in the modern age, social media is a way. So several of our connections share happy memories, some heartbreak, just a way to release, to respond, to share. I had sent him a message not too long that I'm not sure if he ever had time or opportunity to take in as he never responded. These tumors that have no known dietary, genetic, lifestyle or environmental components and he more than any other brain cancer patient I'd known had seemed to attack it with each of those components along with medicine. He lived with it almost the exact median average of 7 years. I saw his name in a few shirts and in the in memory wall at the event as well. 

I'm never quite comfortable at funerals and these all feel like digital funerals. I personally have avoided going to most funerals these days and have avoided speaking at all but one of the people who I've met through the cancer connection. For a guy who gets paid to make speeches, amusing stories or heartbreaking ones are extended ways to say, 'I'm going to miss you' is more than I can personally hear or deliver gracefully. I try to avoid going altogether even as I honestly think about Yogi Berra's old comic maxim, 'go to your friends funerals or they won't go to yours.' I hope no funeral is thrown for me but if someone is silly enough to put one one on, feel free to skip it. I mean I guarantee you I won't be there. 

So now, when I take my medication or these moments, I take the approach that got me married and the approach I took to my wedding guests which is an active effort towards relationships. Before I wrote this blog as I was thinking about it, I put it off to text, call or set up meals some with people it had been a lot too long or a little too long. Even in tough moments, I choose to say that life above ground is always good if you count your blessings. I said that in the middle of seizures, financial messes and personal good ones. Perhaps, it's just a coping mechanism but it's not the worst one I've utilized. 

I still run races with my daughter cause she still likes that even if she doesn't think it's cool for her dad to come have lunch anymore at school. It's a heartbreaking moment but I realize that raising her to be independent in case I'm not around has made her better for her but tougher for me that I am around. I listen to her about her race costume and her Halloween costume not out of any obligation but simply because if she cares about something, I try to as well. I don't bat a thousand but I had no objection to Wakanda Forever. 

But the family and friends are still going strong. Without exception, everyone in the family has won and/or PR'ed in a race since the marriage so we're starting on the right foot. I've been beside or at the finish line for these girls and after their PR's they collapsed into my arms and there's something special about those sweaty hugs. Elaine won the Livestrong 5k and I was proud of her but it's a distant second to the fact we keep finding ways to all be there for each (or maybe I was the one in a distant second place, I get confused). I loved that the announcer, who is a friend of mine, a few months ago introduced me as Kiana's dad and pointed out she beat me as I got across to the finish line. I was equally happy that when he announced my second place, I'm not sure he used my name and just introduced me as Elaine's husband. I get a little too much of the coverage for whatever reason but unemployed single dad with brain cancer gets hot woman with engineering degree, anyone whose focused on the first part, you're misfocused. The Livestrong MC and award presenter was not. 

But we've hung out with other friends too and realized that the closest connections are the best but there's enough room for other friendships. There are foundations and structures but there are other things that aren't as critical to upholding a home but they make it better. 

I realize I can't give anyone advice on how to deal with death; I'm not good at it. But I hope that the way I keep dealing with my mortality has some adequacy of just staying in contact and doing what I love to do with people I care about has something. I hope continuing to say hi and I love you to them and checking on people as often as I can remember with this damaged memory is more meaningful than an eloquent speech at their funeral about them would be. I know it would be to me, just a simple hello here and there even if by text, I promise you I will hold more sacred than anything you say when I'm gone. Is that not true for everyone since well... we'll hear it? 

I've been listening to the song quoted at the beginning and that this blog entry derives it's entry from. It's the sentiment that is getting me to prepare for ultra race by doing my long runs next to my wife. It's also a Spartan so it may be literal when I'm starving and bruised under barbed wire:
I'd go hungry; I'd go black and blue
And I'd go crawling down the avenue
No, there's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love
That's how I show my wife and I hope if your my friend that there's some way I've shown it to you that is adequate. If I haven't feel free to guide me. And if there's one thing you take away from all this rambling it's go pick your people in a way that is meaningful in life that makes them feel your love. 

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