Throw back Thursday

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If I knew then, what I know now…

I would hug them more. For longer. Squeeze harder.

I would listen more and react less.

I would be sillier and goofier with them and pay less attention to the thoughts of others.

I would cave in more often when they would ask for “one more” bedtime story or book to read or batting practice pitch thrown.

I would write and share with them just how beautiful they are.

Looking back to face forward

I’m not sure when Facebook added the THIS DAY ___ YEARS AGO feature, reminding us what we had posted on this day in years past. It is often nice to reminisce about a concert a year ago or some silly family event that a picture captured perfectly. I often stop for a moment, let my mind drift back in time, smile, and move on.

In addition to those relatively recent events, come posts as long as ten, twelve even THIRTEEN years ago! First, I am not sure what I was doing, chronically every Americano I drank or telling the world I was on call in the ICU. I sincerely apologize to anyone and everyone I was Facebook friends with back then for annoying you with such egocentric musings. But what is truly killing me are the other post and pictures. My kids when they were well “kids” instead of the young adults they are now. Seeing curly hair that is now straight, braces now removed, playing a little league game with that mitt broken in from a winter’s worth of nights under the mattress, innocent smiles that hopefully are not gone forever. I see myself in some of these pictures. More hair on my head and a lot less grey. Long runs at three in the morning while still at work by seven. Fewer wrinkles, no beard. Carrying less weight on my shoulders despite a child sitting on top of them.

It takes me more than a few moments before I am able to collect myself from these memories.

Facebook continues to remind me that at one point I thought I had all the time in the world. More time to watch the girl with curls swing across the monkey bars. More time to play catch with the boy wearing that baseball mitt. More time to run before my knees creak and my back aches.

How naïve I was.

I am working on embracing, not lamenting, the inevitable changes in myself and family that continue to occur. I am also trying to avoid all the clichés here.

“If I knew then what I know now”

“If I could do it all over, I would change…”

I will admit these thoughts flutter and float between my ears longer than I’d like. I try to change my focus to the future. And then I remember there is still the here and now. My daughter, who has outgrown her curls, is driving and dancing while fitting in her homework and friends. My son, who has outgrown that baseball mitt, is taking on new challenges on a daily basis. And I have a few more early morning runs left in my knees and back before I hang up my running shoes and visor.

So thank you Facebook. For my daily reminder of “this day years ago”. And in turn, hopefully not forgot what I still can do today.

Sleepless Nights

You were closer to one year of age than two. Our family just three. Between surviving a combined internal medicine and pediatrics internship for me and navigating your young world for your mom, our days were challenging. But the nights. Those endless nights. As the sun would set on the cumulative fatigue of our day, the tension would grow and start to take hold. The rising dread would join our evening journey. Sleep, for you, was never easy. If and when it would come, its hold on you was more often brief and brittle. The crib lay empty and your room stood quiet, having been given up months ago. We entered nights with one goal in mind. Survive until the morning.

That night was different. The reasons escape me; exhaustion in your mother’s eyes or the frustration in mine. But that night I was determined to create a night of sleep for your mom. I pushed her out of our bedroom door, leaving just you and me behind.

You ran to the door, chasing after her. I grabbed you. Picked you up without looking you in the eye. I carried you to the far side of the bed and lay you down, tucking you under the covers. Almost before I could get to my side of the bed, you bolted up and slid off. Racing back to the door, hoping to get through and back to the comfort of your mother’s embrace. And thus it started. I rolled out on my side, intercepting you. I picked you up without looking you in the eye. I carried you to the far side of the bed and lay you down, tucking you in under the covers. Within seconds, you were sliding out of the bed. Repeating this dance. Again. And again. And again. With each repeated attempt, your determination and frustration grew. The cries louder and the screams stronger. I lost track of the number of times you bolted for that door, blurred by the tears streaming down my face.

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How did I get here?

And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?                         -Talking Heads

 

A middle aged father, critical care physician, triathlete, water polo goalie and Bob Mould stalker wakes up one day and asks, “How did I get here?”

The answer to that is probably longer than what is appropriate for this blog, the human attention span being what it is. But that question along with its logical follow up, “where am I going?” has been on my mind quite a bit.

How did I get here? Where am I going? My past. My future. With change coming just around the corner, it’s hard not to have my headspace taken up by these questions. But with some more introspection, I find that this is my brain’s default; to be looking forwards or backwards. I can be in the middle of a long run or bike ride, but instead of seeing the countryside around me, my eyes focus on last week’s battles with the kids, wishing for a “do over”.  Or I fail to see the sunrise in front of me, on my morning drive to work, as I have already mentally dived into the ICU to deal with the overnight admissions.

My past. My future.

But what about my present?

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