Dear Jackson,

May 12, 2010

The longest thesis statement ever

Filed under: Life lessons, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — aJOHNymous @ 3:40 pm

There’s a certain scene in quite a few movies where one character will inadvertently brush up against, or shake the hand of, or just come into some form of general contact with some random, inconsequential person and move on. Often times, it’s a forgotten incident or one that is completely glossed over as it happens. And then—the callback scene arrives. Our original character has a second run in with this other mysterious character and we [the viewers] will eventually recognize the previous scene as a foreshadowing of events to come.

It can be as simple as scene 1 involving man 1 bumping into man 2 and apologizing. Both men continue on their way and the movie continues. 90 minutes later we arrive at scene 2 and find that man 1 is now revealed as the mysterious antagonist of the entire plot and man 1 must save the day. What a revelation! These two characters have already met! Isn’t that CRAZY?

Well, no—it’s actually not crazy. I’ve seen these same scenes played out hundreds of times before in other movies. For a seasoned cinephile such as myself, it is usually easy to realize these scenes for what they are and immediately I think, “We’re definitely going to see that guy again”.

So what am I trying to get at here?

Well, for the past few months, I feel like I’ve been living in one of these scenes of foreshadowing. I have this nagging feeling that I’ve only just recently met the antagonist of my story. To put it more bluntly: I feel like I’ve met the one who will eventually kill me. This story does not have a happy ending. This protagonist dies.

Ah, the great tragedy that is life: none of us can escape and none of us gets out alive. Our stories have all ended before they’ve even begun. But let’s dispense with the convoluted metaphors and analogies, shall we?

I’m sick. I have been for a while now. I have an inflammatory bowel disease called Ulcerative Colitis. The symptoms can be pretty awful at times, as I’m sure you’ll grow up understanding and seeing firsthand. That said, there is good news for people who suffer from UC: life expectancy is not shortened and it won’t directly lead me to a premature death. But like all good news in life, bad news can’t be too far behind.

Having UC dramatically increases my chances of getting colon cancer, prostate cancer, and possibly other more serious forms of cancer. Couple that with the fact that I had an undescended testicle when I was a child and I am now also at high risk for testicular cancer.

This is a bitter pill to swallow when you’re in your mid-twenties. Facing one’s own mortality is tough to do. I know the odds are in my favor, but there’s always that nagging itch that I just can’t scratch whenever I wake up and feel a new pain somewhere. I already have an absolutely irrational fear of death. I don’t need all of these potential scares hanging over my head every day. It doesn’t help my already unstable frame of mind. The increased cancer risks have really brought out my inner-hypochondriac. Like I mentioned previously; in my messed up head, every new pain is a new cancer symptom. It’s completely and utterly ridiculous, but I can’t turn off those thoughts. They’re inescapable. I just can’t shake that nagging feeling that while I may be relatively healthy now, the big C could sneak up on me right when I least expect it.

This is my antagonist.

This is the man I’ve only recently bumped into on the street, accepted an apology from, and watched walk away.

This is that sixth sense telling me that perhaps I’ll see that man again somewhere down the line.

This is my scene of foreshadowing.

I have seen the face of my killer. I know he’s there. Plotting. Scheming. Lurking. Waiting to get the jump on me when I least expect it. I’m sure of it.

***

I once heard a story about a woman who had recently lost her husband and how hard it was for her to deal with his death. In order to try and cope with her loss, she’d taken to cleaning up their house and throwing away anything that she didn’t need. She just wanted to stay busy and occupy her mind. A few days after she’d started, she stumbled onto a beach ball and erupted into sobs. You see, a few days before her husband had died, he’d blown up a beach ball for the two of them to take the beach. This ball contained his air, from his lungs. For the next few months, whenever the woman found herself terribly missing her husband, she would take a small breath from the air inside the ball—just to be close to her husband. Through breathing his air, she was able to keep him with her but it also made it easier to let him go as the air slowly left the balloon until it was eventually empty.

That’s really what all of this is about.

These letters are my beach ball. These words are my air. Every time you read these words, you gain entrance into my heart and soul. Feel the words as they meet your eyes, roll across your tongue, and enter your mind. Know that these same exact words once passed from my brain, over my tongue, through my fingers, onto this page, and into my eyes. Feel that connection.

If I were to die tomorrow, you’d be able to look at these letters and know that I existed. I was here. I was alive. I breathed the same air that you breathe today. You’d see that I too had hopes, dreams, and fears. Most of all you’d be able to see that I loved you with every ounce of my being.

Ridiculous, irrational, crazy—I know. I want to laugh at me too. My fear of death is one of the issues I’m hoping I’ll be able to conquer through therapy. I suppose if I am successful then you really don’t need to know any of this, but I feel like you should know because these are your father’s intimate thoughts. If anything should ever happen to me, it’s important to me for you to know who I was, truly, on the inside. You’re my son. You deserve to know me. My biggest fear is leaving you prematurely, before you have a chance to get to know me and vice versa.

Sometimes I feel like if I don’t write my thoughts down, I’ll just be forgotten when I’m gone. I don’t know. Perhaps one day you’ll do the same for your children. I hope that you do. Hell, maybe these words will even be passed to my grandchildren and great grandchildren. Dare to dream, I suppose. No one else did this for me so I guess I’m trying to start a new tradition: immortality through the written word.

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May 10, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

Filed under: Birth to 1 year-old, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — aJOHNymous @ 1:07 pm

The past few days have been pretty crazy for all of us.

You started crawling a few days ago. It only took 10 months and 1 day, but you finally figured it out. Watching you scoot around the floor to get at whatever it is you’re trying to get at it is really amazing. Just a week ago you would flop over onto your stomach and somehow manage to push yourself backward. Of course, this would frustrate you and you’d start freaking out. Now you head straight for your hands and knees and go forward. It’s amazing how quickly these things can change. Pretty soon, we’re going to have to start baby proofing the house. I can’t even begin to imagine the stuff you’re going to be knocking over and crawling into. I’m just happy that you can finally get around on your own.

I should add that you also love standing. If you aren’t trying to crawl around the floor, you’re hell-bent on pulling yourself to a standing position. No matter where you are—even the bathtub. You’re getting pretty ballsy about it too. You still need to hold onto stuff while you’re standing, but you’re able to keep your balance enough to bend over and pick things up or to move forward and back up. Pretty soon, you’re just going to let go and take those first few steps. That’s going to be a scary day. That’s when we’ll really have to keep an eye on you.

One day after you started crawling, on Saturday, May 8, I turned 27 years old. I suppose I should thank you for such a great birthday present. When you get to be mid- to late-twenties in age, material things don’t really matter as much as they once used to. Simply being able to see you start crawling was really all I needed and it truly made my day. We were able to bring you down by my parents and spend the day with them in New Munster. The weather could have been better, but at least I got to spend the day with my family. My mom put some ribs on the grill and we had cheesecake and ice cream for dessert. You seemed to enjoy the BBQ ribs, but after a few bites of ice cream, you were more interested in eating the cheesecake. I think ice cream is a little too cold for you right now.

The following day we took you to brunch with your mom’s parents and Grandma to celebrate Mother’s Day. You had some scrambled eggs, pancakes, and a few bites of a grilled cheese sandwich. We then went back home and spent the afternoon watching you crawling around after your nap. Your mom’s parent came by to watch you during the late afternoon so that your mom and I could go usher in the summer movie season with a viewing of Iron Man 2.

Busy weekend, no doubt.

This coming weekend will have us bringing you to see your second Brewers game at Miller Park on Saturday. This was one of my birthday presents and I’m really looking forward to it. The day before that will see me leaving from work early so that I can begin work on a tattoo that I’m dedicating to our family. I’m finally getting right arm sleeved and I’m quite sure that I found the best way to artistically represent you, me, and your mother without having to resort to portraits. I hope you grow up liking it because it already means a lot to me (and it isn’t even on my arm yet).

I should also mention that within 24 hours of actually writing this letter, I’m going to be sitting in a therapist’s office for the first time since I was a child (that’s another story you’ll have to ask me about one day). I’m hoping to work through all of the issues that I’ve already opened up to you about in these letters. These are the same issues that have led to my current bouts with depression and anxiety. I’m mostly doing this for you and your mom, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to fix myself for selfish reasons as well. I’ve got a lot of shit to work through and I really hope talking to a professional about everything is the catalyst that I’ve been so desperately looking for. Something needs to change and I’m really going to give this everything I have. I’m just really scared and nervous about actually verbalizing everything that goes through my head everyday. I just don’t even know where to start. I’m also scared about what I find about myself in the process. I’ve got some demons deep down that I fear I may not even know about.

Wish me luck, kiddo.

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