Dear Nate… 003: Rain happens

Bearing the weight

Boy: Papa, it’s raining.

Dear Nate;

As I write this, you sleep in your room. You’re almost three. I’ve written you twice before. I should write you more.

I’ve been sleeping better lately. I dream a lot but I’m a terrible sleeper. Your mother didn’t have this problem. I hope, in this regard, you take after her.

There are things that I hope you’ll take from me, and things I hope you’ll take from her.

The most important thing I want you to take from both us is the ability to bear the weight of the world.

If you ever read through this blog, I want you to tell you two things:

  1. Papa probably made up most of it; and,
  2. I talk about bearing things, quite a bit.

I always thought I could bear more pain – emotional and otherwise – than most. Then I met your mother.

She was, and remains, the bravest and strongest person I’ve ever known. I’ve never met anyone who bore as much as she did.

I hope never to meet another, because to watch it is soul-crushing.

The first time your mother and I spoke on the phone, she was unkind to me. But she immediately called me to apologize and ask how she could make it better.

I told her, “You get points in life for being brave.” I think I loved her at that moment. There is nothing more attractive than bravery.

You’ll meet a lot of people in this life that have all the trappings of bravery: They yell the loudest, act the craziest, threaten the most. They are many things, but they are not brave.

The truth is, we are made in our sleep and by our lonely. Bravery is quiet and happens when no one looks or notices.

And bravery requires you to bear things you don’t wanna: Disappointment, pain, ridicule, and loss.

We’ve lost so much, you and I.

There will be times when you can’t bear it any more and you’ll want to cry.

I want you to remember that rain happens when clouds can’t bear the weight they carry.

Likewise, tears happen when people can’t bear the weight they carry. So put it down and cry for a bit.

It’s ok to cry. Papa cries a lot when no one looks or notices. Papa carries a lotta weight, you see.

Anyway, once you’re done crying, you pick up the weight again. Because life is nothing if not bearing the weight of the world.

The world will teach you things like anger, greed, hatred, and cruelty. I’m sorry for that. I’m so sorry. I wish so many things were different.

But here – in the four walls of our small Manhattan apartment – I’ll try and teach you curiosity, patience, and kindness. With those things and bravery, you’ll be able to bear the world.

And always remember that you get points in life for being brave.

Love,

Pop

Me: Yes. The clouds can’t bear the weight anymore. But it’s ok. They will again and then it’ll be sunny again.
Him: Sunny again… I like the sun. (thinking) Papa doesn’t like the sun.
Me: (laughing) That’s not wrong.

Dear Nate… 001
Dear Nate… 002: Wait and wish

Location: home with the boy
Mood: heartbroken
Music: I love you oh so well
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Alison saved the day

Nothing is ever as it should be

Went to Boston this past weekend on a last minute, 48-hour trip with the Gymgirl. (I’m as confused as you are.)

Had a great time and was gonna write about it but the kid got sick while visiting Alison’s mom in NJ. They’re in the ER right now. I think he’ll be ok but I’m waiting.

I’m a wreck. Alison once said that the day before you become a parent is the last day you’re not worried. She’s right. Even more so with me. For obvious reasons.

In any case, here’s a something I was working on last week that’s much happier so I post it instead as I wait.

I hate the waiting so.

The kid started going to a five-day-a-week school recently.

When I arrived to pick him up, the teacher wanted to talk to me.

It seems they took his thermos out of his lunchbox, and – for some inexplicable reason – thought it was some other kid’s thermos and wrote that kid’s name on it.

It was annoying but an honest mistake and they felt terrible about it.

I was gonna buy him a new one when I remembered that when Alison moved in here, she bought a multipack of these things called Magic Erasers (that’s what the cap’s sitting on in the pic above) and scrubbed both bathrooms methodically until they sparkled.

She was so proud. She said that Magic Erasers were her favourite cleaning product ever.

I spent a solid 20 minutes going through the entire utility closet and found a single Magic Eraser tucked into the corner and used that to clean his thermos – you can’t even see it.

That made me happier than you might imagine because I know that if she were here, and this happened, she would have done exactly that.

Alison saved the day.

Location: 24 hours ago, Boston Commons
Mood: anxious like you couldn’t believe
Music: Miniature disasters and minor catastrophes bring me to my knees
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The Captain and the Kid

Having Tea with the Kid

Me: I love you, kid.
Him: I love you too, papa.

Holy s__tballs! Well, this was the best night this month, which, let’s be honest, is a low bar.  Not gonna lie, I might’ve wept a little. Just a bit.

Got no one to share it with, so I share it with you.


Speaking of the kid, I try not to write about him cause I always try to remember what it was like when I was a kid: I didn’t want to be discussed and dissected in public.

But now I get why my parents did it. Cause parents love their kids so much that they wanna talk about them and show them off.

So I allow myself a post every so often.

When my sister-in-law brought him home the other day, the song Clocks came on and he knew all the words and that the band was “cold.”

No idea where he picked that up from; she had no idea either.* Kids are really like sponges.

A song I’ve been listening to a lot is a song called Imaginary Tea about a dad writing about having imaginary tea time with his daughter.

I loved you before I heard ever heard your voice
Before I even knew your name
I loved you before I saw those pretty eyes
I loved you right away

That’s precisely how I feel about the kid and if ever there was a song that summed up parenthood, it’s this song.

Speaking of parents and parenthood, the one-year anniversary of my dad passing will be this Friday.

The kid’ll be away and I’ll be locked in my room with my half-bottle of rum, which is all that’s left of the rum from the cruise.

Last year, I had people around. This year, it’s just me and Captain Morgan.

Holy s__tballs (again). What an awful month this has been.

Then again, everything around me seems to go to hell. I’ll take it, though, if that means the kid’ll be ok. Alison woulda felt the same way.

We’d suffer any sling and arrow if the kid’s ok.

Me: Do you wanna hear that song again?
Him: (nodding) Yes, papa.
Me: OK!

*edit: My mother-in-law told me they listen to the album in the car; mystery solved!

Location: surrounded by dishes
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I’ve been picking up the pieces of the mess you made
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It’s May. I hate May.

Some new friends


This time last year was absolute f_____g hell.

I’ve been dreading the start of May since about three weeks ago. And now it’s here.

I hate everything about everything, I think.

That’s not completely true.

Someone told me that the people you hang out with most after having a kid are other parents. Remember thinking that made sense but I wasn’t really aware how true that was until I started caring for the boy myself.

There are three women that I chat to online or in RL on an almost daily basis.

Me: I have a new hobby since I’ve become a father.
Her: What’s that?
Me: Well, I prepare all this really great, expensive, organic food, show it to the boy, and then throw it right into the trash.

One is a Slavic woman, another Chinese, and a third, Caucasian that lives across the street from me. There are other great people, almost all women, that I see on a weekly basis but they’re the main ones.

All three were exactly the type of women that Alison would have liked. Witty, kind, and intelligent. And great parents.

Me: I was running late so I crossed in the middle of the street with the stroller. I feel guilty about that.
Her: (dismissively) Please, I do that all that time. If someone judges you, that means they don’t have a kid.

We met for drinks around the way the other night.  The owner musta liked us because that’s him taking a shot with us.

I’m grateful they’ve accepted me into their club. It’s funny because I must be an odd addition to this group of mothers. An otherwise sad and peculiar single father of this awesome little kid.

As for me, I feel like I’ve stepped into Alison’s shoes and I try to do what she woulda done. At least, what I think she woulda done.

It makes me sad because I’m certain they would all have been friends with her  and she them instead of me. I woulda preferred that so.

But I’m grateful that they’re my friends and help me feel like I’m doing something right. I also wish Alison was here so I could tell her about them. That we have that village here she wanted to have.

And maybe they could tell her that we’re ok.

Because Alison always worried about us and I wanted her to know that they think we’re ok.

Her: You’re doing great as a father.
Me: Am I? Thanks for letting me know. I worry. About everything.
Her: That’s called parenting. He’s such a happy kid. That’s why you’re doing great.
Me: It’s all we ever wanted for him. To be a good and productive member of society. (clearing throat) Thanks.

I’ll tell Alison if I ever see her again.

Oh, I’d love to see her again.

Location: in front of a new bottle of rum. It was new. It’s no longer new.
Mood: heartbroken
Music: Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
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Logan’s 45

Another health scare


Had my own health scare the other day, on top of the cracked teeth and everything else. My left eye suddenly went blurry for no reason and stayed that way for a bit.

My brother – poor guy has to field all my goddamn medical issues – told me to go see a doctor.

Man, I should really stop calling him and just go straight to the doctor.

Went over to the same medemerge I just wrote about before. The same one that I brought Alison and the Gymgirl to.

The doc there said that she didn’t see anything that made her worry enough to send me to the ER but told me to see an eye doctor.

Wanna know my honest-to-god first thought?

Maybe I’ll see Alison and my dad again.

And my second thought was: Whoa, I gotta be ok. I gotta raise the boy.

It scared me because those two thoughts should be reversed.

I’m tired, you see. Life is tiring.

Feel like a copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy again. I wanna raise the kid but I also wanna go see Alison and my dad and call it a day. Not that I have any faith any more.

Then again, the hope is that there are things that’ll make me wanna stay beyond raising the kid someday.

Suppose that’s always the cause and cure for all human suffering: Hope.

The hope that things might be better tomorrow.

Was thinking about that around this time 11 years ago and every day since. I’m still wondering what it all means.

Gymgirl: I was thinking of seeing you on your birthday.
Me: I’m all for that.
Her: Well, really, I was coming over for a sushi boat. (pause) Let me rephrase that: To treat you to a sushi boat and end up eating most of it myself.
Me: Works for me.

I just turned 45.

The past few birthdays have been horrific, for obvious reasons. It’s a low bar, but still, I hope that this one’ll be better?

Anyway, wish me a happy birthday, alla you bastards that read me and never say anything.

Me: Have you ever seen, “About a Boy?”
Gymgirl: No, what’s it about?
Me: …a boy?

Location: in front of a thermometer and a sick boy
Mood: curious
Music: I have lived ten years plus ten and ten and ten again. I have seen too much to pretend
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No Happiness Scar to Show

Starting off 2018 with Dom


When Alison and I got married, her sister bought us a bottle of 1989 Dom Perignon. We decided to keep it for a special occasion in the future.

Her: Let’s have it when the baby’s born.
Me: Perfect.

Of course, we didn’t count on the heartbreaking amount of losses. And absolutely never thought our life together would start ending just five days after the kid was born.

So it stayed in my fridge all these years.

The messed up part of it is that, I grew to hate this thing born of family, kindness, and love. On a practical matter, it just took up space in my fridge. On a deeper level, it was a constant reminder of all the b______t things that were supposed to be sweet for us but were bitter instead.

Can’t tell you how many times I thought of just opening it and chugging the whole damn thing.

Was planning on staying in for New Year’s Eve. My mom had the kid. My mother-in-law just bought me a new bottle of rum so: Plans.

But then I got a text from an old and dear friend around the way.

Him: Yo. Are you around tomorrow or going out? RE Mike is coming by for drinks around 8 if you want to come by.
Me: Cool. Was just planning on staying in but that sounds like my speed.

Decided to bring the bottle for three reasons:

  1. The couple that invited me did more for Alison than most people, by a large margin.
  2. Alison always liked all of them. RE Mike’s girl was even from her hometown. She was excited to get to know her.
  3. I actually had a bottle of it with them in past, so I thought it’d be a nice continuation.

We cracked it open a few minutes after I arrived. We toasted my family and said the goodbye to the old year. And, like always, I hoped that this year would be better.


Should note that I spilled two glasses of champagne there – not the super good stuff – so the clumsy is still working.

Stumbled home just before 1AM. Gave the Gymgirl and my family a quick ring.

Afterward, I lay down in my suit on my white couch for while and opened up my jacket. For some weird reason, I like to have quotes sewn on the inside of my suits. On this one it said:

It’s a piece of a quote I told you about once before: It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness.

It’s funny. People notice the scar above my eye now. And the one on my lip from time-to-time. And the one on my leg and arms. The biggest scar I got is the one in the shape of Alison on my soul. But no one sees it.

Although, you know about it, I guess.

Wish I had a scar for all the amazing times I had with Alison. The amazing life I had with her. For that, I have no scar. Yet another b______t thing in my life.

Anywho, I laid on the couch, thought of that for a bit.

Then, I got up, poured myself a glass of rum, and sat down again.

Started 2018 the same way I started a lotta my days in my life: In an empty house feeling empty.

Me: Hey. I miss you like crazy. Happy New Year, hon.

Location: Seven days into 2018
Mood: thoughtful
Music: It’s gotta get easier and easier somehow. But not today
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Logan tries an mBerry / No Year in Review

Hoping for some sweetness


My friend Jaerik once said that he liked reading my posts because they were never ranty.

I kinda feel all my posts for the past two years have been ranty. Have to somehow get back to how things used to be. Somehow.

Used to write up these year-end reviews and be able to joke about things like death. That seems like a million years ago.

But I’m gonna try to make the most of the life I have now with the kid.

The Gymgirl bought me something called an mBerry from Amazon for Christmas, which makes sour things taste sweet. The above video is one she took of me eating a lemon. It’s pretty cool; it was like eating a super sweet orange.

God, if only there was something I could take to make my otherwise bitter life sweet.

2018 is coming up. Always hope that the new year will be different and better. Hope I’m right this time.

I hope there’s some sweetness for Alison’s family, the boy, and me in the years to come. You as well.

If only.

Location: 3 days from the new year
Mood: (very cautiously) hopeful
Music: dreaming of bigger things, and wanna leave my own life behind
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The brightest thing I got

My college friends finally got to meet my kid

Her: He’s so chill!
Me: (laughing) It’s funny. So many people use those exact words to describe him.

My college friends never met the kid all this time.

Was always worried about Alison getting sick since her immune system was weakened, and we were never in a social mood all these years. It’s easily been four years or more since any of them have been over.

But I decided that it was time for them to meet him. They’ve all – quietly and not-so-quietly – done so much to support us. The problem with seeing them all is that it just makes everything that much more real.

And I despise my reality so. But I’m stuck in it.

So, I cleaned up the pad, picked up a dozen danishes, some cheese, and some olives, made 14 cups of coffee, eight cups of tea, and laid out alla my mugs. Tried to do it like she woulda done.

Everyone was just great. As I knew they would be. They brought their kids, who were also great with the kid. That’s him sitting on my friend Kathy’s lap.

You can still see my messed up left eye.

On the plus side, only broke down once. Quietly in my blue bathroom. So I suppose that’s a step forward. Yay.

After they all left, I put the boy down for a nap.

Me: You’re a star, kid, you’re a star!
Him: (laughing, shaking head) No. No.
Me: Do you know how to say anything but “no?”
Him: No.
Me: (nodding) S’ok. You’re still my star. You’re the brightest thing I got. Poppa loves you more than a fat kid loves cake. (sighing) Mama too…

Location: my white couch
Mood: struggling to make it to 2018
Music: If you ask me how I’m doin’, I would say I’m doin’ just fine. I would lie and say that you’re not on my mind
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Dear Nate… 002: Wait and wish

The Stanford marshmallow experiment

Father and son

Dear Nate;

As I write this, you are almost sixteen months old. I still feel guilty that your Grandma McCarthy has been taking the most care of you because I am still focused on your mama.

So many people write me asking about her these days. They’re waiting for some news. We are as well. We wait to see if we have more monsters to fight. We wait and wish.

For now, we pretend we’re a normal family raising you.

On that note, I learned something in college that stayed with me all these years called The Stanford marshmallow experiment.

In it, several scientists found a simple 15-minute test given to 3-5 year olds that later turned out to be the single biggest determinant of a child’s success in the world – more than IQ, education, wealth, or anything else.

The test went like this:

  1. A child was led into a room, empty of everything but their favorite food, like a marshmallow, on a table.
  2. The child was told that he or she could have the marshmallow now OR
  3. Wait 15 minutes and they could have two of them.

The children were tracked for several years and the researchers found that those that waited that extra 15 minutes did better at pretty much everything, versus the ones that would simply eat the marshmallow as soon as the researchers left.

A book I love called The Count of Monte Cristo ends with this line:

All human wisdom is contained in these two words – “Wait and Hope”

I wish so many things for you. Suppose all fathers do. But what I wish most for you is not wealth, intelligence, health, or any of these things.

What I wish for you is that you are patient and optimistic. If you are these two things, all those other things will follow and so much more.

This writer named Bernard Malamud once said that, Life is a tragedy full of joy.

If all human wisdom is contained in the verbs: Wait and Hope, then the essence of life is contained in the nouns: Tragedy and Joy.

Tragedy will come, that you can count on. I wish it weren’t so. After all, it’s the nature of the world to whittle you down to nothingness.

But joy always comes again, I promise. You just have to be patient.

We have so much tragedy, yes. But we also have so much joy because we have you. You are our greatest joy.

Always wait and hope, Nate. Because joy always comes again.

Love,

Pop

Location: Still at home, waiting.
Mood: anxious but patient
Music: Just sit down, take it slowly. You’re still young, that’s your fault
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Lovely, dark and deep, but we have promises to keep

There’s no way out but through


We ended up getting our second treatment this last Monday. Took three times longer than we had expected but I was thrilled to be there.

Looks like we’re back on track. For now, at least.

I spoke to a cancer researcher last week too. He said that Alison was the longest lived butterfly glioma patient he’s ever heard of. It’s a dubious distinction, and still not enough for us.

On that note, had numerous friends and relatives ask if she can get a break: Can’t she just have a few months without swallowing 30 pills a day, without having needles stuck in her every week, without wearing a helmet of magnets 24/7, without inhaling an astringent four times a day?

The short answer is no.

Because they don’t become friends with other glioblastoma patients and caregivers. They don’t have to hear: We put David in hospice this week. Jessica had three new tumors on her last scan. Maddie passed away today.

It’s tough to hear because you hope everyone else can pull through. You hope your loved one can pull through.

But the truth is a powerful thing. The truth is, most people are dead from this damn thing within 18 months. And most of those people are people that can walk and use their arms. People that had 100% of their cancer removed. People that went to the best cancer centers in the world.

Most people start off far better than Alison and still died.

If there’s any way at all for her to survive this, it’s because she doesn’t stop until the job is done.

It’s like that old Robert Frost poem:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

No one goes 12,000 miles if they can go 30 unless they feel they have no other choice.

We don’t have a choice. No one with a glioblastoma really does. There’s no way out but through.


Some college friends of mine are throwing Alison a fundraiser dinner at Nickel & Dinner on March 2nd, 2017.

So if you’re hungry and in the NYC area looking for a bite a eat, hopefully you can stop by. Ask for Kathy or Ricky, two dear friends of mine.

As for us, we’d love to go. But we can’t, cause we have monsters to fight.

 

Location: Home again
Mood: cautiously hopeful
Music: say honestly you won’t give up on me, and I shall believe
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