Survivor?…Don’t Give Up

I have been asked a time or two about how long it takes me to put together one of my essays. Most of the time it does not take very long, because often I have worked on the idea inside my head for quite some time before putting it on paper. It flows quickly.

Sometimes I am working through an idea and I just write. Throwing mud and seeing what sticks, so to speak.

I also do a lot of writing that you do not see, and probably will never see. I write about what I am thinking and it often just stays in a file on my computer. When I am gone my kids will have them to read. If Erin later wishes to put them on the blog that will be fine. They will be hers to do with what she wishes. This was going to be one of those pieces.

The idea for this essay came to me while preparing for the Zero Prostate Cancer Awareness 5k Run that my doctor’s medical group sponsors each year. The race is run in Wichita on Father’s Day weekend. I think the first time we participated was 2017. In 2018 I wrote some things down, but never finished. I was not sure I was ready to share. The essay stayed in the file to be kept for when I am gone.

I have come back to this essay a few times this year. The last time was in June. Looking over it and adding and subtracting. Each time that I wrote I could not get the piece completed to my satisfaction. I put it away.

Just a few weeks ago my girls and I ran the Zero 5k Prostate Cancer Awareness Run in Kansas City, Kansas. That again got me thinking about this essay. It was time to finish. I decided to take it out of the file.

This piece is a combination of several thoughts that I have edited and turned into one. It has taken awhile. Here we go.

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Today is Sunday, June 2, 2019, and it is National Cancer Survivors Day. I sometimes feel at odds with the mainstream thinking on the different verbiage used to describe a person with cancer and their “cancer journey.”

My thoughts are that often the words and metaphoric phrases used by non cancer people do not describe me or provide a very good explanation of what I am going through. Often these words or phrases try to minimize what people with cancer are dealing with.

“You got this!”

Well, no. Actually I do not. You can move along now.

I think I understand why these words and phrases have become so popular. They are easy. These are fallback words that people rely on when they do not know what to say. They want to turn a negative into a positive and cheer up their family member or friend. I really do appreciate the effort, but I feel they are often misguided. I think there is a better way.

I will in the future write an essay on talking to someone you care about with cancer. But that is not what this essay is about today. Well maybe it is just a little.

Before moving on to the main topic I will share with you one thing I think is very safe to say to a cancer patient. I would love to hear it myself actually.

“Kevin, your ass sure looks good in those jeans!!”

I have not heard that yet so you could be the first one to tell me. You could lie. I am okay with that. It would cheer me up, and of course make me laugh.

All kidding aside I would now like to talk about just one word that is used often in the cancer world. That word is: Survivor.

Each year that I go to the doctor’s office to pick up everyone’s race packets and gear I am asked if I am a survivor. Survivors are given different shirts so they can be picked out from the crowd. I am not real comfortable with that, but what the hell.

The first year I was picking up the packets that survivor question surprised me. I thought for a moment and I then told the lady that no, I was not a survivor, but that I hoped to be a survivor one day.

She then asked me some other questions and handed me a survivor’s shirt. She told me I was a survivor. She explained that everyone with cancer no matter where they were in their “journey” was considered a cancer survivor. I took the shirt.

I have thought about that conversation a few times. Hence the reason I have started and stopped working on this essay several times.

I realize that many people identify with being a survivor. I am not writing this in an attempt to change their self image. If that works for them, that is great. I will support whatever helps people get through the mental challenge of dealing with cancer. Many people have been cured. They are survivors. I am so, so, happy for them.

I do not feel like a survivor. I do not consider myself a survivor. If someone else wants to call me a survivor, I will not correct them. If I am asked privately I will let them know my thoughts.

To me, something happens and when it is over you have survived. If it does not end you have not yet survived.

I have survived many situations in my life. Sometimes when it is over I wonder how the hell I survived. But I did.

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One November night many years ago a business was being robbed just two blocks from where I was. When I arrived and I approached the business l learned that the robber had just fled and the manager of the business, who had just had a gun held to his head during the robbery, pointed in the direction the robber ran. I had an idea where he might be going. I had arrived so quickly that I thought I had a good chance of finding him.

I pulled down a street that ran in front of an apartment complex. I thought that might be where he was going. Sure enough he emerged from a dark field into the light. He wanted to get to the parking lot where his partner and getaway car waited. What he did not know, and which I later learned, was that when his partner saw me he drove off leaving the bad guy on his own.

I hopped out of my car to confront the bad guy. I forgot to put my car in park. So my car continued to roll down the street. So excuse me bad guy for a second while I hop back into my car and put it in park. Okay that is taken care of and now I can deal with you.

In the bad guy’s mind I was blocking his getaway. He had to go through me.

I was telling the bad guy what I wanted him to do, but he just ignored me. He was walking straight toward me. When he got close enough I reached out and grabbed him. The fight was then on.

Now this man was taller and heavier than me. But that is not unusual. Hell many people are born taller than I am.

When I grabbed him he punched me in my right eye. Thankfully that was before I wore glasses. You do see a big bright light when you get punched in the eye.

The fight I imagine did not last that long. To me it was a long time. We punched and kicked each other. I was having a hard time keeping control of him. What the hell am I saying? I never had control of him. I was just trying to stop him the best I could.

During this fight I knew that one of us was going to get hurt.

I do not know where it came from, but I heard a voice inside my head and this voice spoke to me.

“Kevin! You are going to get shot, but you will not die! Do not give up! Do not let this man get away!”

The fight continued. Then I heard the voice a second time.

“Kevin! You are going to get shot, but you will not die! Do not give up! Do not let this man get away!”

The bad guy started to pull away. I could no longer hold on. Then came the shots.

I do not know what was going through Christy’s mind when the supervisor showed up at our front door. He was there to take her to where I had been taken. He was/is a very good friend of mine. We are neighbors. He lives across the street. I think that made it easier for Christy to be with someone she knew. Thankfully we had family in town visiting who could stay with the kids.

I do not know what Mitch told her. I do not know what they talked about. After all these years we have never talked about that. Maybe one day we will.

In my line of work you live with the knowledge that bad things can happen at any time. It is not something that you constantly talk about with your spouse. We both knew the danger.

When Christy walked into the room she saw that I was okay. We hugged and kissed.

I survived that night. The bad guy died. I am not proud of that. I wish that it never happened. I wish that I could have controlled that situation better.

That confrontation had a beginning and an end. I survived.

I have had three cancer surgeries. I survived.

I have been through radiation. I survived.

I have had poisons injected into my body. I survived.

I have taken pills daily that make me sick. I survived.

But until I am told that my advanced/incurable/terminal cancer is cured then and only then will I consider myself to be a cancer survivor.

Until that happens I am just a man. A man who happens to have cancer, and like most men I am trying to get through each and every day the best I can.

Many mornings as I am putting on my suit or sport coat and tie that voice at times can be heard once again inside my head. This is what he says:

“Kevin you have cancer. But Brutus is not going to take you today. Do not give up.”

With that thought in my mind I straighten my tie and I smile at the man in the mirror. Winston tells me that I am looking sharp and then out the door I go ready to enjoy the day and live my life. Then I ask myself if Christy is happy. Because if she is not happy well you know how that goes.

Winston also told me that my ass looked good in my jeans so I guess you will not be the first to tell me after all. Thanks Winston.

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Recently I was again tested to see what Brutus was doing. If you remember last time I was tested that my doctor, U3, was concerned because Brutus was growing so fast.

I got the results on October 15th. They were not good. Brutus continues to grow at a high velocity. I was concerned what the doctor might say when I saw him the next day. I suspected he was going to tell me that it was time to go back on treatments. Damn!

I saw U3 on October 16th. We had a very informative visit. I informed him on what was going to happen.

I am not going to go into the details today on what happened during our visit. I will soon write an essay about what has been going on and what the next steps are.

The doctor did tell me that it was his advice that I go back on treatments. NOW!

I told the doctor NO. I told him that for now I was not going back on the poisons.   I gave him my reasons and he told me that he understood.

I did not lose that November night and I do not plan on losing to Brutus. As I have said before…how you live your life is how you beat cancer.

In a few days I will be on my way to Kentucky to see my Tigers pound the wildcats in a football game. I hope the Tigers left the team they took to Nashville in Nashville or else I am going to be pissed.

Win or lose it really is not the game itself that is taking me to Lexington. It is the chance to spend time with friends. I want to enjoy my life while I am still feeling good. My doctor gets that.

When I picked up our race packets before the October 6th 5k race in Kansas City I noticed that the forms they had there for me to fill out had a better description on how I see myself. The box I checked had patient/survivor. I think that is more accurate. I feel that there are many people that feel like I feel. They gave me a shirt to indicate that I was a patient/survivor.

After crossing the finish line at that race I was greeted by a woman who congratulated me on running the race. She then congratulated me on being a cancer survivor. It was the shirt. I said thank you.

As I continue down the road with Brutus I do not believe that calling me a cancer survivor is correct. But like I told the lady at my doctor’s office I hope to one day be one. What will be, will be.

No matter what happens I will just have to continue winning each day.

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I have been running basically the same course in my neighborhood for 28 years. I run in the grass because running on hard surfaces causes my Achilles tendinitis to flare up. I know where all the holes are. Occasionally I find a new one.

I run through a church lawn and one day I saw they had a sign in my path. I figured it probably said: Kevin, keep off the grass. It did not.

It said: Don’t Give Up.

Now when I run through the church lawn I reach down and I will touch that sign. I then say to the voice inside my head:

“I Will Not Give Up.”

Kevin

Cancer Patient

Home

Camden, your Nana (Gaga) and I are home now from our fourteen day adventure. We took a plane to Vancouver, Canada and spent a day running around there. Okay walking.

Have tiger backpack. Will travel.

Then we spent seven days on a boat. Now this boat was a little smaller than I have been on in the past, but Camden it was also a little bigger than Uncle Barry’s boat at the lake. Just a little bigger. One day I hope that you go on an adventure to Alaska and if decide on taking a cruise I recommend taking along some Dramamine. Just in case.

While on the boat we visited Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier, and Seward. They kicked us off the boat in Seward so we took a bus to Anchorage. The ride to Anchorage was beautiful so resist the temptation to nap.

Spent the night in Anchorage, and I recommend the Glacier Brewhouse on 5th Street. Good food and decent beer. I am telling you that so you can give your folks a heads up. It will probably be about five years or so until you taste a beer. Yes maybe you and I will open a vintage bottle of Bud Light to celebrate your eight birthday. Maybe?

No, I did not have a Bud Light at the Glacier Brewhouse. I did not see it on the menu. I had some sort of fruity beer, but not an IPA. I try to stay away from bitter beer face. When you get there tell them that Papa sent you. They will not give a shit, but tell them anyway.

The end of another great day.

Aunt Connie and Uncle Brad decided to end their trip in Anchorage and resume their lives in the lower 48. We decided to stay in Alaska a little while longer. They will be missed. Okay they were missed for about five seconds. I had visions of Denali National Park dancing in my head. Just kidding, I do wish that had made the trip to Denali. Brad and I could have been Denali National Park Spades Champions. Yes!!

We took a train early the next morning to get to the park. We were in Denali about four days.

Now for most of the trip I have worn sunglasses every day. The sun has been shinning, except at Hubbard Glacier.

But noooo, not in Denali, never even took my sunglasses out of the case. Good thing I had my emergency rain coat. It rained most of the time we were there. When it was not raining it was very cloudy.

Had a great time in the park, but unfortunately it was too cloudy to see the top of Mt. Denali while in the park. The mountain is so tall that it creates its own weather. They say that only about 30 percent of the visitors to Denali are able to see the top of the mountain, it is the highest peak in North America.

So while in Denali we took a bus tour through the park. The park road is about 95 miles long, but visitors are only allowed to drive the first 15 or 19 miles. I cannot remember which one. So we booked a 13 hour guided bus trip with Kantishna Wilderness Trail Tours.   They took us the entire 95 miles into the park and thankfully the 95 miles back.

During the trip we saw moose, caribou, sheep, a fox, ground squirrels, and of course…bears. Oh my.

So that means that on this trip I have seen humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, Dall porpoises, several different kinds of salmon, bald eagles, moose, caribou, mountain goats, a fox, ground squirrels, and bears. Of course I have also seen several different types of birds as well, but sorry little bird if you were not a bald eagle I did not pay attention. I think I did see a partridge in a pear tree. Maybe?

Oh I almost forgot to mention we saw dogs, a lot of dogs. In Skagway we went to a dog sled and mushers camp where they train dogs for the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race. We were pulled on a sled with wheels and of course we got to hold the puppies. They were so cute.

Camden we were not far from the North Pole. Did not see Santa, but we saw several of his reindeer. Rudolf might have been able to help us, but his nose was just not bright enough in the mist and fog. We could not see him.

The day after the wilderness tour we hooked up with Denali Raft Adventures and floated the Nenana River for 11 miles. I was not sure about the company at first. It appears they frown upon taking anything extra with you in the rafts. I was thinking just what kind of float trip was this going to be without a cooler.

Then I learned that this was a whitewater rafting trip and we would be going through eight rapids in which several were class III and IV. Okay, okay, no cooler. (I did not book this adventure: Christy did. I would have asked about a cooler.)

The Nenana is a glacier fed river and the water is about 34 degrees. It was a fun little ride even without a cooler. The river was up due to all the rain which made it even more interesting. They had me put on a wet suit, but even with a wet suit you will get wet and yes it is cold. If you are sitting at the front of the raft you are going to get really wet.

I recommend Denali Raft Adventures. Good job Christy. Remember no coolers. Bring an extra pair of dry wool socks for the trip back to your hotel. You could really use more than one pair. Experience talking here.

Camden I am looking forward to taking you on a float trip. We will have a cooler floating the Current River. I bring that up because our bus driver grew up in Salem, Missouri. Which made me think of past float trips on the Current.

Our driver has been in Alaska for five years. He is one of the few people who I have met who stay here year round. He told me that Denali has one stop light. (Sounds like Wellsville. Wellsville is not as pretty.) In late September when all of the tourist leave the area they turn off the stop light and the gas station closes.

Camden do you know what the locals call a traffic jam? That is when someone slows down for a stop sign. Wear your seatbelt.

Denali was fun, but we had to take that train back to Anchorage. Looking on the bright side the train ride meant that I was going to have a brownie covered with ice cream and hot chocolate syrup for desert for both lunch and dinner. I thought of you while enjoying my desert. I gained a few pounds on this trip.

I satisfied my sweet tooth in other ways as well. In Skagway you will find the Alaskan Fudge Company. You will also find them in other Alaskan cities I learned. In the Skagway store I met a young woman named Megan who sold me a few boxes of truffles. You know the chocolate peanut butter truffles, the cookies and cream truffles, and straight up no chaser chocolate truffle. They were amazing.

I paid with a credit card, but if you use cash you will get U.S. dollars and coins back. This is not Canada. Megan noticed who issued my card and asked where I lived. I told her Wichita, Kansas. She said that she was also from Wichita. Actually I learned that she was from Kingman just down the road from Wichita, but close enough. It is a small world, but I would still hate to paint it.

Now Camden you know that I have a problem with eating too much of anything chocolate. I also have another problem that I need to warn you about.

I want to take a minute to warn you about one thing you see quite often in the cities of Alaska. I might not be with you so you need to prepare yourself for this. I am talking: THE GIFT STORE! You cannot go anywhere without running into a GIFT STORE.

Camden I have a problem. I am a sucker for gift stores. Gaga and your mom try to keep me away from gift stores. But if I see one, they know better than to try to keep me out. I cannot be stopped. This trip was no different.

I bought refrigerator magnets, beer mugs, Christmas ornaments, hats, t-shirts, a calendar, books for you and Adalie, shirts for you and Adalie. Maybe Gaga picked out the books and shirts. I approved. Also purchased were wool socks that I wore on the float trip. The socks have cute mooses/messes/moose (take your pick) on them. I do not even know how many postcards I bought.

Do you think I went overboard? I didn’t think so either. I am going to need a bigger fridge.

My addiction at times can cause problems at airports when they weigh my bags. My carry on backpack was very heavy coming home.

Gift stores can be expensive. I know of my problem and planned for it. Financially I had it worked out. I am driving on many of my adventures and I always take cash that I call my bond money. You know that I have been known to drive a little fast. It does not help when you are in the backseat yelling “Faster Papa Faster!” When I am out and about in other states I carry extra cash in case I have to post bond. Not driving this trip so my bond money is being used to pay the gift store tax. Camden when traveling always take bond money. Or you could slow down. No, have the money.

The day after the float trip we take the train back to Anchorage and spend the night. I will talk about my last night in Alaska on the next and I think probably my last Alaskan Adventure Facebook post.

Camden many people who read my blog are subscribers and do not know about my Facebook page. I bring it up today because I have posted several pictures of my adventure there if they would like to take a look. Just use the password “Kevin is the greatest.” Just kidding, it is a public page. No password yet.

This was a great trip Camden that I enjoyed immensely. You will too. I recommend that you take an adventure there. Whether you take a plane, train, automobile, boat or combination of, just get there. You will not be sorry.

I am now planning my next adventure.

Camden, I find being home has its benefits. I have Bud Light in the    fridge. I imagine that when I get to your house on Tuesday I will also find Bud Light in your fridge. I might also find some chocolate ice cream. If not, do not worry. Road Trip.

Camden it is now time for me to go downstairs and pour a beer into my recently purchased frosty Alaskan Brewing Company glass which I bought at their Gift Store during my brewery tour.

I was just walking the streets of Juneau when I discovered the brewery tour opportunity. I went and would recommend the tour. It was fun and refreshing. Watch out for their gift store. Especially after sampling a few beers. You have been warned.

Papa

What Will Be Will Be

Que Sera, Sera…What Will Be Will Be…The Future’s Not Ours To See…Que Sera, Sera.

I wonder if my kids will ever figure out where that came from.

After returning home from our lake vacation it was once again time for me to visit with my medical team.

Every three months I am tested to see what Brutus is doing. From the test we can tell if Brutus is feeling well and growing. We can tell how fast Brutus is growing. With months and months of data you can see where things look like they are going and do something if needed.

There was a time when Brutus was doing very well. He was growing and the numbers were going up fast. When the smoke cleared after my medical team had mutilated, shot him with radiation, and poisoned him for months and months he said “fuck this!” and started shrinking. He cusses a lot. I do hear him.

The poisons were doing their job and Brutus felt like shit, and I felt like shit. That is how it works.

Then it was my turn to say “FUCK THIS!” The treatments were stopped.

So what does wholesome Doris Day have to do with an essay where the “F” word keeps getting used? Well, let me tell you.

At some point in time you have to let your worries and fears go.

Fear, another “F” word, and one I find more offensive than the one I used above.

You cannot let Brutus get to you. There are some things you can control and others you cannot. You control how you react, and how you live in spite of what happens. Then one day the words Doris sang were in my head: Que sera, sera.

You truly learn to accept What Will Be Will Be. Then you learn to live.

Being told that you have an incurable cancer I am sure can be a terrifying experience. With me it did not sink in at first. They were just words from a doctor. I was in denial. Then you go through the process, and you realize that these fuckers are serious. Then I was terrified.

It is that unknown, that future that we cannot see that can be very exciting or terrifying or even both to a cancer patient. Hell too many people I guess.

You feel great and you think things are going very well. Then you learn they are not.

Since going off the poisons I feel so much better. It has taken time to get to where I am now. The treatments create such a hormonal imbalance that it takes months to recover. My testosterone levels are not where they once were, but I am getting there. No more Fucking Hot Flashes!! My fight with menopause has been temporarily suspended. You poor ladies, I did feel your pain, or at least your heat. Christy and I no longer fight over the fan.

I have been able to go on longer walks. Hope to be running again soon. I have a race I want to run in a few months. We will see how that goes. I just hope I do not get passed by too many ladies pushing those fancy running baby strollers. Well maybe I will not mind. The view is not too bad. You know someone has to be last. I can always play the card.

I have been able to work out and I am getting stronger. I still get fatigued at times, but nothing like it was.

Hell I can even mow my own yard without having to stop. That was not happening last year. I am better.

Discomfort at times is still an issue. You deal with it and move on.

I am feeling better. I am getting better. What that also means is that Brutus is also feeling and getting better. Damn!

A short time off the treatments and he started growing again. He continues to grow. We are both feeling good.

I spoke with U3 on Tuesday the 16th. We had a very good conversation, but he had to go and spoil the bromance to give me what he thought was not so good news.

Of course we talked about me (one of my favorite subjects) and how I was feeling. We talked about my upcoming adventure to Alaska. He told me that was on his bucket list. He said someday. I told him not to wait.

We spoke about my fear of bears. I do not like bears. You know I do like Yogi, Boo-Boo, and of course Gentle Ben. I am not so sure I want to get too close to a bear in Alaska.

The question often asked is does a bear shit in the woods. I am going to say yes I think he does. I am also going to say that Kevin will also shit in the woods if he walks up on a bear. The good doctor told me not to get to close. Thanks Doc.

When we were finished laughing and our date was about over he decided to spring his most current thoughts on the Kevin cancer situation.

“I have concerns. Your cancer is growing too fast.”

Now this was not news to me. I see the numbers. I know what is going on, but I sure as hell was not going to bring it up. I like how things have been going. I figured that when it got important one of the doctors would say something. Well I guess he just did. Damn.

My goal this year was to be able to go to Alaska in July and my class reunion in September and not be on any poison. I did not want to be sick on these trips. I do not want people to see me sick.

The good doctor had my undivided attention. When your cancer doctor tells you that your fucking cancer is growing too fast well he just became Dr. EF Hutton and you listen. Okay you youngins will not get that reference, Google it.

“If it does not slow down soon, then we are going to have to do something.”

Wait a minute it sounds to me like he is not going to try to get me to agree to do something right now. That was a good thing, because it was not going to happen.

We had this conversation on July 16th. My Alaska trip was coming up very soon when we had this talk. I’ll be damned if I was going to go on anything or do anything to make me sick. I am getting on a plane on July 25th. Whatever he is planning on doing will have to wait.

July 25th, that is tomorrow! I need to pack! Damn.

I sat there looking at him. I did not say anything. I wanted him to continue. I wanted to hear his recommendation.

I had to fight the urge to quote “Brother Stork” and say to the good doctor, “Well what the hell are we supposed to do you moron?”

Maybe I would have left the moron part out. Maybe?

(Okay I will explain that Brother Stork is a character in the movie Animal House. Animal House by the way is one of my favorite movies. You guys need to be writing this shit down if you plan on having a chance of winning Dead Man Trivia.)

The doctor talked about radiation. This is a strategy I knew was a possible option. I do not stay up until 3 AM reading articles, research reports, and clinical trials for nothing.

As he talked I learned that this is an option that might allow me to stay off of the poisons a little longer.

He talked about having a specialized scan that would more precisely identify my lesion/tumor hot spots sooner that other scans. If they can be located early and there are not too many of them they could be radiated. The radiation would hopefully kill or shrink the tumors. This would help with pain management as well as give me more time. It would not cure me. Damn!

One problem we might run into with this strategy could be getting the insurance company on board. He explained that the needed scan is not covered by many insurance companies. He did not know if my insurance would cover the scan.

That is a very good question. We have run into this problem before. After my surgery they wanted to radiate me, but they wanted a special scan done to better find the cancer. At that time they were hoping the radiation might cure me. For that to happen they had to know where it was.

The insurance company declined to pay for the scan. The window of opportunity for the scan would soon close.

I went ahead and had the scan. We hoped to appeal the insurance company’s decision to deny the coverage of the scan. It is like asking for a second opinion. Who do you talk to for this second opinion? Well someone else in the insurance company. Hahaha. Really that shit is not funny. The system is rigged.

My radiation oncologist wrote a letter to the insurance company. She spoke over the phone a few times with the insurance company doctors who could reverse the decision not to cover the scan. She explained why the scan was needed and how it would help me. She got mad and hung up on them once. After all the talk the decision was not reversed.

I could write an entire essay on that situation. Maybe someday I will.

I imagine we might have the same problem again. The scan is expensive and this time the radiation does not offer the chance of a cure. If the scan is not approved I will not have it done. That will mean going back on the poisons. Damn.

In the past receiving this information might have worried me, but not today. You learn to go with the flow. Tomorrow might offer a different opportunity. Tomorrow might bring a different procedure or a new poison. Whether Brutus slows down or not is out of my control.

So tomorrow I start my Alaska Adventure. It will be a great time. Living now is my priority.

When I get back if that Little Bitch Brutus is still serving lemons then I will have one big ass glass of lemonade. As I sip on that beverage I will think of this trip and appreciate the life that I live.

Que Sera, Sera, What Will Be Will Be…..

Kevin

This Is “The Place”

This is “The Place.” Yes it is. Well if not “The Place” then one of the places.

I know you are probably thinking just what the hell is Kevin talking about. I am talking about Table Rock Lake. You know the Great Bambino of all Missouri lakes.

Took a photo of the sunrise over the lake because I like sunrises more than sunsets.

I am not going to debate which of the Missouri lakes is best. Each has its own pluses and minuses. Some would vote Lake of the Ozarks. I can see that. Table Rock does not have a party cove quite like the Party Cove at Lake of the Ozarks. Well except maybe our cove at Table Rock,   but we keep our clothes on. Well at least most of the time. Right, Erin and Megan?

I have chosen Table Rock as the best because of our yearly family vacation there. We have spent a week of vacation there every summer for the past 23 or 24 years…I think? Hell I do not know how long we have been doing this, but it has been a long, long time.

The Brown Family along with the Anderson Family and the Moehring Family have gotten together each year at the lake. There were 23 of us there this year. We keep growing.

Now I will not say that over the years we have not had issues during our time together. I have said in the past that family can be like fish. You know after a few days they start to stink.

Even taking that into consideration I can honestly say that it is a vacation that I look forward to each year. If or when the tradition stops then I will miss this family time together. We have had so much fun and have so many stories.

I have a story about Uncle Barry’s boat sinking in the slip at the dock. I think it was sabotage.

There is the story of Erin and Megan going skinny dipping and a swim suit being washed out into the lake. That was an interesting situation.

There have been a few ER visits over the years. Many fish caught and many stories told about the one that got away.

Many beers drunk, many card games played, many heartfelt conversations had over the years, and many pieces of advice given to nephews and nieces.

Camden! When Uncle Barry said park the boat I do not think he meant there.

My nephew Hayden will be a junior in college this fall. We were talking about his future career plans and he told Erin and I that he planned on being a stay at home dad. Erin explained that he probably should not share that when dating. I kinda like his career choice. Good work if you can get it.

Later we were floating in the lake doing our blue bobber thing.   I was drinking my Bud Light and all of a sudden we were talking about my party. My end of life party, or also called my Celebration of Life. NOT A FUNERAL.

Before I go into the details let me explain how we got on this conversation in the first place. The answer to that is that I really do not know. It just happened.

I am sure I brought it up in some way. How I was able to sneak it into the conversation I do not remember. I probably had too many beers. It was a brief conversation, but it is a start.

Christy and I have had this conversation. She is not in complete agreement with my wishes. Okay, okay, that is an understatement. She told me that if she is planning it then I will be having a church funeral. Noooo not a church!! She said that a funeral is for the living and not the dead. I am not going to like it, but if that is what happens I guess I will be there. Damn.

But if I can put a plan in place maybe I can get what I want. It has worked before so maybe one more time. Christy hinted that if I put everything together I might get what I want. With that in mind I brought the topic up at the lake. Maybe I was looking for Team Kev support.

It is a topic that people do not want to talk about. I understand that. But it is a conversation that I need to have.

When should I have this conversation with family? If you wait too long you never really get to have it, and things just happen. I do not want things to just happen. I want my desires known so people can get comfortable with the idea of playing “Dead Man Trivia” at my party.

No matter how much people wish to avoid having this conversation it has to happen. This is the part of my disease process that no one wants to talk about. No one wishes to talk about death. I need to face it. I need to talk about it.

I am going to share something I have not shared before. July is my cancer anniversary month so to speak. For four years we have lived under this cloud. That worries me a little. You see 70 percent of men who have similar disease characteristics as mine die within five years of diagnoses. I am a little concerned.

I remember a conversation I had with one of my doctors and he told me basically to enjoy the days when I felt good, because those days would not last. I hope he is wrong.

I keep telling myself that I am going to be one of the 30 percenters. I keep telling myself that the poisons have become more effective over the years and that these new treatments are giving men like me more time. I do believe that. I have to believe that. But what if it doesn’t? This shit does not work for everyone.

Well if the shit does not work then I better have my bags packed so to speak. I need to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. That means I better have this Celebration of Life party figured out. On to the details, but remember that it is a work in progress.

So I envision a meal being served. Like a last supper with Kev sort of thing. So you better get there early before we run out of food. Who knows maybe by then I will be able to turn water into wine etc.

Most likely I will not have that wine thing down yet so I anticipate it being a BYOB party. I am not paying for your alcohol. I have seen many of you drink. Wait a minute, yes go ahead and put it on my tab. Let’s see how they plan on collecting that.

Now who is going to be the host of the festivities? Well it has to be me don’t you think. Yes I will be very dead, but through the power of modern technology I can still host. I will video myself and it can be played at the party.

Did you really think I was going to miss my own party? You know better than that. I might need a little help so I will name a co-host at a later time.

Now one of the things I will be doing there is hosting a game I call “Dead Man Trivia!”

Yes I will be asking the audience questions about myself. Such as: Can you name the greatest Rock & Roll band according to Kevin? One of my kid’s better win Dead Man Trivia or I will be pissed. If that is possible.

Other things will be happening, but more about that later. This essay is getting rather long and I have other thoughts I want to discuss.

Where to be buried? That is a good question. I own a cemetery plot here in Wichita. I bought it years ago. I read a book that said that I could get rich buying land so I bought a cemetery plot. You know one day we will run out of those. I will have cornered the market. HaHaHa.

The problem I have is that if I am buried there then I cannot sell it. I obviously did not think this through.

I guess I was feeling a little cemetery plot market irrational exuberance. Thank you Alan Greenspan.

I also have a few other problems with my investment. The biggest one I guess is the fact that I do not want to be buried there. Hell I do not even want to be buried. I plan on being cremated. What to do with my ashes? That is another good question.

Do I want my remains in Kansas? I thought since my kids were born here and we raised our family here and actually I have now lived in Kansas longer than Missouri then Kansas would be where I would stay. I have decided that even though Kansas has become my adopted home so to speak it is still not home. That is Missouri. I am even torn about going back to Missouri. I have been gone for so long.

Since I am planning on being cremated I think that the solution to the problem is to have a little of me here and a little of me there, a little of me everywhere.

Now I am use to telling the ladies to stop fighting. I tell them that there is enough of me to go around. I am not sure after cremation that there will be enough of me to go around. So I will most likely keep the sprinkle spots to a minimum, or even change them as I think of a better place. I have a few places in mind that I do not think will change.

Busch Stadium! Yes Busch Stadium. Justin has been instructed to plant a small amount of me in the flower beds in front of the outfield bleachers. It will be like having season tickets, but cheaper. I think I will like it there.

I am going to tell Justin not to put too much of me there. Who knows in 30 years they might tear the stadium down. Where would I end up then? So Justin, sprinkle Kev lightly in Busch Stadium.

Wrigley Field! Yes, Wrigley Field. I hate the little bears. They think that the Curse of the Billie Goat was bad or the guy who caught the foul ball. I like Steve Bartman. What happened to him should not have happened.

The cubs will not ever win another series in Wrigley when playing the Cards. With a little of me in the ivy I plan on haunting those sons of a bitches for the rest of eternity. The Curse of Kevin MF Brown! I like that idea. Not too much Justin. A little of cub hating Kevin is all that is needed.

Those are two solid places on my list. I figured some of me will be kept with Christy and we will be planted together in the far, far, distant future. Maybe even in Kansas. Damn!!

I really do not want to be in a cemetery, but I do want to have a place where the kids can feel like this is where I am. I do not want them to come to a cemetery to visit. I want them to come to Table Rock Lake.

Yes, I think Table Rock Lake would be a nice place for me to spend more time. I am thinking that a little of me could be in a nice urn or even an empty Bud Light bottle. A glass bottle, it has to be a glass bottle. You know a long neck ice cold Bud Light never broke my heart. HaHaHa.

Anyway looking out into the lake east of the cabins off the dock near the no wake buoy might be a good place to drop me down. If you are using a beer bottle make sure the cap is on tight, and use some weights. Or even put a little Bud Light in the bottle with me. I might get thirsty. Double check the cap. I do not want to become fish food.

Erin I know you are asking yourself how I know that area is east of the cabin. That is where the sun rises little girl. Erin has always been directionally challenged.

Every year when my family vacations at Table Rock I will be there. You will not need to go to a sad place to visit. I will be at one of our Happy Places. A place where we have great memories that brings smiles to our faces. That is where I want to be. You can take a boat or a bobber out to where I will be and drop down a Bud Light. I would like that.

Our future is bright. My children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and their significant others.

I have spent over two thousand words making light of what is a tough subject. What I have written are my wishes. Having these ideas will help with the plan.

Indian Hills Resort at Table Rock Lake will never become “The Place.” It will just be one of the places.

The main place I want to be is in your heart. No matter where my children go I will be with them. It will not matter where I am buried or where I am sprinkled. In their hearts is “The Place” I wish to be.

I am confident that future treatments will work and my plan will not be put into place for a few years. But at least you know my wishes if things do not work out.

Hey, anyone interested in buying some land? I have some property.

Kevin

A Strong Woman

I am not sure how to start this essay, Adalie. I have been thinking the last few days what I needed to say and how to say it. Not sure I will get it right. I guess I will just start talking and we will see where that takes us.

While on a fishing trip I received word on Saturday, April 27th from your Nana that her Grandmother Ruth had died. We had been expecting the call. Ruth was 96 years old and was in hospice care. She had a long and very adventurous life. She was a true trailblazer. I am not going to go into the details here about her life. I will leave that for future conversations with your Nana and other family members who knew her better than I.  Her obituary contains much of her history, and I am sure you will have that for future reference. If anyone else is interested they can Google Ruth Kolpin Rubison.

What I want to talk to you about is the legacy that Ruth has left behind for you: A legacy of strength. A legacy of perseverance. A woman who never wanted to hear something could not be done. Now someone else might have to do it, but she did not want to hear that it was not going to happen. Ruth was the family matriarch and role model, and I have seen many of her attributes passed down.

After leaving your house on Monday the 29th I went to work for a day and on Wednesday, May 1st we headed to Joplin. It was a sad time, and a happy time. I am not sure how to explain that to you. I realize that you are only two months old. One day you will understand.

We were there to celebrate Ruth’s life. We saw family we have not seen in quite some time. Your Nana’s cousins were there. These are people she grew up with. They lived in the same town growing up and they were more like brothers and sisters. It seems that now we only get together at weddings and funerals. I agreed that we should get together more often. We will. That I promised your Nana.

You see Adalie when you are born into this world you are with family. As you travel through your life you will make many friends and have many acquaintances. Friends and acquaintances will come and go as you pass through the different stages of your life. A few will last a lifetime. How many?  Well that will depend on how hard you work at it.

One thing for sure is that you will always have family. We enter this world with family and I would think, if people have a choice, they would choose to also have family with them when they leave this life. That is my hope. I understand that Ruth had family with her at the end. That makes me happy.

As I spent three days in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas I had a front row seat watching family. It was fun. Watching Uncle Ron tend bar in the lower level of his house conveniently near the swimming pool was amazing. He made drink after drink. Your Nana only had one glass of wine. Uncle Ron made sure that for several hours that glass was never empty. I have not seen your Nana like that for many, many years. It is all fun and games until she barfs in my car. I had Aunt Weezie give her a barf bag for the ride back to Bentonville, Arkansas form Carthage, Missouri. No accidents. Thank God. I would have hated to kick her out of the car. Just kidding. Maybe.

I mention that now, because I would bet that in the future if this ever comes up she will leave that part out. Hey it happens. Been there done that. If an accident would have occurred in the car I would eventually forgive her. Maybe.

Forgiveness. When I think of a strong person that is one of the many attributes I think of. I mention it here, because I believe it is an attribute that is often forgotten. As you go through life, Adalie you will need to learn to forgive. That can be hard. You cannot hate as that will just eat you up inside. You can learn to forgive. Trusting that person again might be a little more difficult. Maybe impossible. I have witnessed many an apology, but sometimes not seen the person’s behavior change. These are people you need to distance yourself from.

Just as important as the forgiveness of others is forgiving yourself. We all make mistakes. Do your best to make things right and move on knowing you have done what you could.

You will have many female role models in your life, Adalie. Your mother, Nana, Aunt Amy, and too many others to list here. I will stop so I do not get into trouble.

Many of your role models will have learned how to be a strong woman by watching Ruth. They have watched and learned and then developed those attributes they saw to fit their own unique personality. No one is ever a direct copy of someone else. We are influenced by many.

Even though you will never know or meet Ruth. A little of her personality will be passed down to you. I see it in your Nana, and your mother. That is good. I think.

It also means that in the future, your significant other will need a Man/Dog Cave. (Erin is editing this and would like you to know, Adalie, that if your significant other identifies as a woman, that is A-OK and she can have a woman cave if she wants.) You see your role models are very good at getting their points across and you always know where they stand and what is expected. Sometimes they scare me. My Man/Dog Cave has come in handy. Just saying.

Even though Ruth is no longer physically present in our lives. She is there. She lives on in her family. You my dear, are a part of that legacy. Therefore I have no doubt that you too will be like her: A Strong Woman.

Ruth

Me, my nephew Matthew, baby brother-in-law Barry, middle-brother-in-law and just right Brad.

This is my niece Allison. We are DQ buddies. She recently turned 16 and has a brand spanking new license. After the visitation she wanted to drive my car to the DQ. Hahahaha. No. You are so funny Allison.

Ruth’s “Great 8” Grandchildren

Looking Good….Feeling Good….Winning

I walked into my oncologist’s office this past Wednesday, February 13th and after saying hello the first words out of Dr. O’s mouth were “Looking Good.” I was thinking, “Well I know that doc.” Then I realized that he was talking about my numbers.

My urologist, U3, checked my numbers in January and they were down. Excellent! Dr. O is checking me in February. The test results show that my nemesis Brutus is still with me. He keeps fluctuating. We will continue to keep an eye on him. I am not worried at the moment.

Dr. O appeared to be a little confused. He basically did not understand how I could be doing so well. He shrugged his shoulders and moved his hands toward the sky with his palms up.

So we talked. Let me get this straight doc. Since I am not on active treatment, like you had requested, you do not understand how I am doing so well. Maybe it is because I am not on active treatment. He smiled. He told me that for now we would continue with doing nothing. That is correct doc. I agree that is what we are going to do. I appreciate the consultation, but Dr. Bad Ass Brown already knew what was going to happen.

He asked about my pain. I reminded him that Dr. Bad Ass Brown does not have pain. Just discomfort. I told him that when the discomfort hits that I have been taking more medicine than he had originally prescribed. One pill just does not help. The increased dosage helps with the discomfort. Also the discomfort has not been as bad the last few months. So we were good there. I told him that I was feeling good, and that I was happy.

We set up another appointment. As I was leaving I wanted so badly to tell him that if needed I was available for other patient consults. Sometimes with humor I try to make a point. I decided to shut up. It was so hard not to make that statement.

“Looking good” is a common statement I hear from people that have not seen me in a while.

I do have to ask myself a few questions once I hear that comment. Does this person not realize that I am Kevin “MF” Brown and that I always look good? Right Sharon!?

Are they making the comment because I look good for a 59-year-old? Is the comment being made because I look good for a man with cancer? Bingo, I think we have a winner.

What people do not realize is that a person’s outside appearance tells them nothing about what other things that person might be dealing with inside their body. I look good. I have been feeling better. BUT, I am not well. I have cancer. For now it does not appear that it is going to change.

I will never get tired of hearing people tell me that I am looking good. It reinforces my idea that I am winning. I still have the upper hand. Brutus will just have to wait for his day.

Sorry, but I am going to interrupt this essay for a moment to discuss another deep investigative journalistic question that people seem to want to know. No, I do not color my hair. I cannot tell you how often I have been either accused of coloring my hair or asked if I color my hair. No I do not. Stop being a hater. If you look closely you can see some gray. Look closer.

I have been blessed with my grandfather’s hair. When he died he had a full head of dark hair with just a little gray. I inherited his hair. I also inherited his cancer. So with that in mind I would rather be bald without cancer than have dark hair with cancer. I would take a bald no cancer Kevin any day. ANY DAY! Now back to regular programming. Where do I pick up my Pulitzer?

During the summer of 2015 around 1,303 days ago I was sitting in my family doctor’s office talking about my tests results. He let me know that the results were not good. He did not need to wait for the results of a biopsy or any additional scans. He told me that with a number that high that I had cancer. A biopsy later confirmed the cancer, and the process began.

Since then some days have been good, some days bad, and some…oh well I was breathing. No matter how you feel the day still happens. With the passing of each day you have a sense of victory. You put those days together and it looks pretty impressive.

I am kicking Brutus’ ass. Look at the score. I took the picture Friday when the score was 1,301 to a big fat 0 for Brutus. I have won each and every day and I do not see that streak coming to an end anytime soon. Now some of those wins have not been pretty. I along with my team have made some errors, but I will take the “W” no matter how it comes about. Brutus, well he needs a closer to lock down the late innings. He has not yet found one.

As for my team we just try to play the best game possible waiting on our chance to score. Hit and run. Steal a base. We do whatever it takes knowing the importance of the moment. We have done well.

In his great speech Stuart Scott talked about living and dying with cancer. He said the following:

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.”

With that in mind I know that I will beat cancer. I also realize that one day Brutus will probably go from 0 wins to 1.

Some say that when a cancer patient dies that they have lost their battle with cancer. The idea that you lose to cancer is wrong. How can you lose when the score is 1,303 to 1? You do not lose.

You win by showing Brutus that you are not afraid to live. You win by living the best possible life you can each and every day.

That is how you win. That is how an advanced patient beats cancer.

I have decided that I am going to try to change the focus of future posts. I want to move away from talking about how I am in a medical sense. No more talk of doctor visits and test results. I want to focus more on how I am beating cancer. I want to focus more on how I am living. More essays for my kids and grandchildren to have for future memories.

I will continue to write about cancer and my thoughts about the process. I just think for a while I want to stay away from talking about where I am in my process.   We will see how that works.

So in the future if you have a question on how I am doing I want you to remember this:

I look good. I feel good. I am winning.

Kevin

Hard Questions……Tough Answers

“Dad, have they told you how much time you have?”

That is the question Amy asked me recently while she, Allie, and myself had a meal at a local restaurant. Before I attempt to answer that question let me rewind for just a moment and explain what has happened the last few weeks and how we had arrived at that moment, and that question.

A few months ago Amy asked me if I would be willing to do her taxes one more year. I told her that I could help her out, but that she needed to come home and bring with her all the information I would need. I also told her that she was going to sit with me and learn how to do this herself. Her taxes are so easy.

When she arrived in town we went out to eat. I never thought that I would ever have a conversation with Amy where the topics were death and taxes. More specifically my death and her taxes, but it happened. Death and taxes cannot be avoided. So they say. I am just going to try to kick it down the road a little farther. My taxes! I will send a check on April 15th.

So we first talked about her taxes. Amy changed jobs this year and so she worked most of the year in Kansas, but a small part of the year she worked in Missouri. I pointed out that she needed, or I should say we needed, or better yet let’s get down to what was really going to happen and that I needed to file state returns for her in both Kansas and Missouri. Amy looked at me and said: “Really?”  Yes little girl, really.

After taxes she had some additional finance questions. We talked about her 401k that we had set-up, and we talked about the benefits of a Roth 401k. You know it was just a regular night talking adult shit at Applebee’s. I kept my Mountain Dew intake down so not to get hopped up and go all Spider monkey on our waiter, Chip. Have you ever been kicked out of an Applebee’s? I will save that story.

Eventually the topic turned to my health. Sooner or later it always does when I am with one of the kids. You see Amy knew that I had recently had my usual tests completed and that I had seen my new doctor to review the results. After that visit the kids were told that things were going well. Amy took this opportunity to ask for more details. Damn.

What these recent results show along with the results from the past few months is that Brutus grows for awhile and then he shrinks. Shrinking is good. So for now I can continue to stay off treatments.

I shared with Amy over Mountain Dew, chicken nuggets, and fries what happened when I saw my new doctor.

Hold on a minute I know that at this point Cammy will have a question. Let me answer. Yes Cammy, I will buy you some chicken nuggets when I see you. Promise! (That boy loves his chicken nuggets.) I will take you to DQ for chicken nuggets, and a chocolate Peanut Buster Parfait!! I am feeling a little hungry right now. How about you? Okay back to the doctor.

I went over the results with the doctor, and I told him that most of the time I was feeling really good. We talked about the tumors shrinking.

I was sitting down and all of a sudden I stood up and I raised both arms into the air and I looked the doctor right in his eyes and I said to him, “I am cured!” This was a test.

You see Dr. U never liked talking about anything negative. I was hoping that U3 would be a doctor that would handle the tough times with candor. I do not want a doctor who wants to avoid the hard questions and not provide the tough answers. I was a little surprised about what happened next.

There was a moment of silence as I watched the expression on U3’s face change. I have not seen that look on a doctor’s face since Dr. U told me that I had been misdiagnosed and that my cancer was much more advanced then I had been told and that he had great concerns for my welfare or health or something like that.

U3 had that bad news look on his face. He might also have been wondering if I was a little delusional, or maybe no one had explained to me what I was up against, and now he was going to have to tell me. Or would he? That was the test. I will paraphrase what he said. Now this is very close to a direct quote, maybe a few words different.

The doctor looked at me and said: You have metastatic cancer. Your numbers could blow up tomorrow. I am glad that you are feeling well. Enjoy this while you can, because it will not last.

WOW and DAMN…DAMN…DAMN!

You think maybe a little too much candor? No, in my situation I think there can never be too much candor. I wanted to see if he would level with me. I wanted to see if he could be trusted. He passed the test. Thanks doc.

Now I do think that in the future I am going to have to talk to him about his word choice. That word “metastatic.” That has got to go. I do not like it. It sounds sooo bad. I am thinking that he should use the word that other doctors have used and that word being, advanced. You know you can be an advanced swimmer, advanced student, or have an advanced IQ. Which I am none of those, but I have an advanced disease. I like that better. We will talk. Moving on.

I asked the doctor if he thought I could remain off treatments for all of 2019. I asked because I already have a lot on my calendar. A couple of fishing trips, Table Rock Lake trip, baseball games, Alaska, a trip to the homeland and who knows what other opportunities will present themselves (like visiting the newest baby Heger in KC).

I guess one of them will not be a Missouri football bowl game. Damn NCAA. Maybe my anger should be directed somewhere else. Let me think about that a moment….Nope. Damn NCAA.

I really cannot think of a good time to ever go back on treatments, but especially this year. I do not want to sit on my butt at home. I want to get out and live. Looking at my schedule I do not have time to be sick.

I was looking at the doctor waiting on him to answer my questions about treatments. He did not look very comfortable. I could tell that he did not have the answer that I really wanted to hear. I guess I should not have asked such a hard question. He was having a tough time with his answer.

He looked at me and then said, “Maybe.”

We exchanged smiles. I knew what he meant. I know that he wants me to be able to cling to a little bit of hope. I will.

Before leaving the office an appointment was made for April. Then we will do this all over again. We talked about a new set of scans to be done in April. Damn.

As we go forward moving through time I know that things will change because nothing stays the same in the cancer world. They say that time marches on, but for me and people like me, our fear is that time is running out.

That brings us back to the question that Amy asked, “Dad, have they told you how much time you have?”

I have an answer to that question. The answer itself raises other questions.

I have talked to Justin and Erin in the past about Amy’s question. Justin and I have probably talked about it more in depth than I have with the girls. Amy has never really brought it up. I would imagine they have talked to each other.

They could ask Winston. Winston and I talk so he knows everything. Winston is such a good listener and is never judgmental. You can learn a lot from a dog.

Amy’s question is one of those questions where you think you might want to know the answer, but you really do not. If you do not know then you do not have to face it. The answer cannot hurt you.

I asked Amy a couple of questions to make sure she really wanted to get into this discussion. She did not. She decided that what she wanted was to think that I was going to be around for fifty more years. We left it at that. You see Amy is a lot like me. Let me explain.

I have a book sitting on my bookshelf directly behind me as I am typing. The book is titled, “Tuesdays with Morrie.” I read this book several years ago. Or rather I read most of the book several years ago. Many of you are probably familiar with the book and know that Morrie dies. I enjoyed Morrie so much as I read the book that I did not want him to die. I found myself refusing to read the ending. In my mind Morrie would stay alive. He would still be teaching life lessons. I later finished the book.

I did not want to confront the ending of Morrie’s story, nor does Amy want to confront my last chapter.

In a few months we will be entering the fourth year of my life with Brutus. When you look into what I consider to be my timeline we have gotten really deep into this process.

Erin, Justin, Amy, and Christy are the most important people in my life. They experience their own pain and have their own fears as they try to deal with what has happened and what will happen. I want to help them get through the last chapter.

Take a moment to read these words from Morrie:

“If you hold back on the emotions – if you don’t allow yourself to go through them – you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive right in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, ‘All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.'”

Amy, when you are ready with your hard questions I have answers. Remember that we will hope for the best, but we must be prepared for the worst. It will be tough, but we will get through this together.

Love,

Dad

I came down with the flu recently, and while I was recovering Amy
and Allie took advantage of me not being myself and ganged up on me to
win several uno games. Good thing they were not sanctioned games.