On Pancreatic Cancer Research

So, I’ve been struggling with digestive issues for a little over a year now. As the calendar flipped into 2023, my mostly mild symptoms started to escalate, which obviously worried me. Ever since losing my father nearly 20 years ago, my family has had a touch of medical anxiety. That is to say, small things like, say, gas pains, immediately take our minds down a serious path. This wasn’t helped by losing my uncle to pancreatic cancer in 2020. In my mind, it is the scariest of all cancers (which themselves are all very scary). Having had a courtside seat to my uncle’s journey (which was, by all accounts, one of the better pancreatic cancer journeys… see: the unicorn shirts), I am still justifiably scared shitless (see: constipation) by the whole concept of pancreatic cancer. I mean, it just sort of sneakily grows there, cloaking itself in mostly mild digestive discomfort… until it’s almost too late.

Rent free. You hear that phrase when folks are talking about an idea that hangs heavily in your head, weighing on you. Pancreatic cancer lives rent free in my head every time I have mild digestive discomfort. Which, I’ve been having a lot, making an eviction pretty tough. So, I’ll admit, between that and the aforementioned baseline health anxiety, I have not been in a good way. In fact, about a month ago, I got so worked up in the middle of the night that I drove myself to the ER and convinced the doc to give me an abdominal CT scan. Thank God I live in an area and era, with the means, to push for such a scan. I’m keenly aware that not everyone is, or has been, or will be, so fortunate. The good news is that the scan came up empty. No stones, no tumors, no obvious excuses for my discomfort. There was a little bit of intestinal swelling, which is consistent with stress-induced IBS. Either way, I’ll be following up with all the “oscopies” they will give me, trying my best to rule out the big stuff. Likely, I’ll be left with the need to get a handle on my stress in healthier ways, while becoming increasingly cognizant about my diet (dairy and gluten, in particular).

I’m jotting this entry in my journal today, however, not to chronicle my battle with my own inner demons (though it’s probably therapeutic to put them out into the light). Instead, I wanted to note an article that recently popped onto my radar. You can find it here. It talks about a recent study where mRNA vaccines were utilized to potentially cure pancreatic cancer. If you’ve been paying attention, this is the same mRNA technology that many questioned during the early days of COVID vaccines. In fact, one might argue that the experience of COVID has been built upon to lead directly to this study. Or, put another way, without COVID, this progress in pancreatic cancer treatment might not exist. Now, it’s a small study, and there is a long way to go. But, man, if you’ve been close to someone on their own pancreatic cancer journey, you know how powerful hope can be.

I realize the concept of science messing with DNA-like-stuff can seem scary and all Sci-Fi-y. But before you let it take up space in your head, rent free, consider that from my point of view… if it means providing a better survival rate for folks facing the scariest of scary cancers… forget flying cars or lightsabers, I’ll take this.


There is Light

Let me lead by saying that I have never felt a more consistent trend of exhaustion in my life. The challenge of caring for each kid is not additive; the challenge increases exponentially. Moving from two to three has put me to a point where I’m ready to schedule a doctor appointment in order to be officially done with the kid portion of my journey. As soon as I get the energy to deal with it.

I’ve been physically exhausted before. Involvement in sports taught me well how to push through that. This is more of a whole-being exhaustion. It’s different. It’s not like running sprints or completing that last mile. It’s more like starting off every day already in an energy deficit, and choosing to dig the hole deeper. In fact, it’s probably more like the national debt in that way. Just keep borrowing. Some day it will impact me, but that day is not today!

Unfortunately, our bodies do catch up with us eventually, and I’ve struggled with soreness, proper digestion, and general mental health. It’s a side of parenthood that we only talk about in hushed whispers. It’s always “so worth it” and we’re trying to “cherish every moment,” but I feel guilty a lot of times because I just don’t have the energy to make it to “cherish.” I’m just surviving. Making it to the next day. And I want to remember how much my kids love and need me in this phase, because you don’t get it back. I’m keenly aware. But you can only do so much.

That all being said, I can feel the tide turning. As Bennett acquires more skills and sleeps better, the entire family benefits. I can see the day, not so far off, when this level of exhaustion will be viewed through rose colored glasses as just another season of life that I made it through. And I’ll fondly “remember the time when…” It’s on the horizon. I can see it. I’m still frantically churning beneath the waves like a duck. I’ll get there.

A mantra I’ve been repeating in my head that seems to help: “It is enough.” I am not perfect. I don’t have the energy I wish I did, but I have enough. There is peace in this idea of enough. It’s good to strive and grow and work toward “more” and “better.” But it is also okay to take a step back, take in the view from where you are, and tell yourself: It is enough. I can make it with what I have, now, today. I can succeed. I have enough. I’ll continue to work hard and move toward “more.” But I don’t want to let the idea of “more” obscure the true goal of “being happy.” Sometimes you have to reign in the hungry wolf, and feed him “just enough.”

I am enough.


I Got *Too* Into My Job Posting

So I was having a little fun on LinkedIn today… thought I’d cross post here, Dear Journal.

I posted the appropriate, professional-style recruitment post yesterday. Today, I wanted to do something a little more fun and personal to me. Here’s how my mind works:

A warm wind whips the backside of my legs, driving the dust into whirling devils on the ground. The long layers of my sandy robes dance with the breeze, and I reach up slowly with both hands to lower the deep hood shading my face from two searing suns overhead. I move purposefully forward, eyes focused and determined. As I approach my destination, I raise one hand, making a nebulous gesture, and the doors slide away before me. Like a conquering hero, I stride triumphantly into the cantina, eyes alert for trouble… or adventure.

Okay, so maybe that’s ten-year-old me walking into a supermarket. But it could also be much older me, after working alongside the awesome team that brought the LCN 6400 Compact Auto-Operator to market. I’m not sure I’ll ever be talented enough to move doors with mind power alone (perhaps my midichlorian count isn’t high enough). I can, however, provide a healthy dose of #SystemsThinking that makes it seem like we’re doing space magic with our sufficiently advanced technology. So, join me. Embrace the power of #SeamlessAccess.


Six Months Later

It’s been a busy first half of the year for me, Dear Journal, culminating in the arrival of Bennett on June 21st. To say we sort of skidded into the finish line on this one is perhaps a bit of an understatement. It seems that with each additional child, things are just a bit more difficult. I wouldn’t say it increases exponentially, or even linearly, as lessons learned from kids 1 and 2 can definitely help smooth out 3. That being said, the challenge definitely increases, and I can safely say that I believe we’ve found our comfort limit and are complete as a family. Now, I suppose with all things, I may look back on this post later and laugh at myself. But, at least where we’re sitting now… we’re good.

Part of the skidding was Kate’s Nana passing away on June 8th. We’d seen a lot of Nana in the last few years, as Wawasee has maintained as one of our favorite places and, as such, we visited as much as we could. 92 years is a long time, so as much as we’ll miss visiting with Nana, I can only hope to be given the same amount of time on this Earth. I was only around for the the last sliver of those years, so here’s the obituary for a fuller account than I could provide. I believe Kate was able to attend as much of the arrangements as possible though, between you and me, Dear Journal, I was half convinced that Bennett was going to make his appearance on I-69.

Speaking of Wawasee, we also took ownership of a condo on the lake this spring. Talk about loading our plate! Still, when opportunity knocks, one must be prepared to answer. It’s been a dream of ours, ever since our Oakwood wedding, to have a place up there. We were super excited, but then had to wait until Bennett arrived before being able to travel up there. Fortunately, the timing all worked out so that we were able to spend the 4th of July up there and take in multiple firework shows.

Brooke loved the fireworks, every color was her favorite. Blair is a little more unsure about them. Which is funny because Brooke is definitely more cautious than Blair when it comes to typical play. And Bennett? Well, he pretty much slept through them all.



First of all, thank you to everyone who reached out with a kind word. The good, old social media birthday waterfall is, in my opinion, one of the more positive aspects of this digital age. I’m personally very bad about reaching out with birthday wishes, especially since tools like Facebook make it so easy. So I appreciate it doubly-so, because I probably failed to reach out to you. Hopefully there are enough social media extroverts in your life that you didn’t notice my faux pas.

Birthdays are often a time of reflection for me, but this year that’s been a bit of a struggle. With mental health being destigmatized, I’m going to take the opportunity to write about my own struggles today. I don’t typically like to focus on myself, because so many have challenges far greater than my own. Still, this is my journal and my experience, so buckle up.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with seasonal depression. It always hits me hardest right around my birthday. The holidays have enough distractions going on and, lately, the weather hasn’t turned really cold until January or later, it seems. Thus, the cumulative impact of the winter doesn’t really hit me until now. It’s a strange thing, too, because I’m not a particularly “outdoorsy” person. I’m generally very happy hibernating with a video game, movie, or book. Yet, inevitably, I find myself unusually irritable at some point around this time of year.

That’s how it starts for me. I realize I’m being a grouch, and I don’t really have a reason why. There is nothing specific. And then I recognize that my motivation has been pretty poor, and I don’t find a whole lot of enjoyment in, well, anything. Focusing becomes a struggle, and I’m generally someone who can tap into an ability to hyper-focus at will. It sucks. Life sucks, I suck, everything sucks. And that’s one face of seasonal depression.

The silver lining for me (that I’m quick to point out to anyone), is that I have been through this enough that I know there is an end. Perhaps a huge difference between clinical depression and a milder seasonal variant, is that I am able to focus on the fact that: “this, too, shall pass.” I know there is light at the end of the tunnel, if only I can slog my way through said tunnel. And I am nothing if not stubborn. So I think I cope reasonably well, but it is not always easy.

For example, yesterday was my birthday. My wife and mom were around, and of course they’re like, “what would you like to eat? It’s your birthday.” And, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of a food that sounded good. I didn’t want anything. Not deep dish pizza. Not ice cream cake. Not pollo con chorizo. None of my usual favorites. Just the thought of choosing what to eat seemed like it would take sooooo much energy. What a bizarre thought pattern! So, for my birthday, I asked them to choose. I asked them to relieve me of the burden of choice, and I could just… exist… for the day. What a lame way to spend a birthday, but it worked for me, and I appreciate them for doing it.

I wonder if I’m terrible with birthdays because I’ve always struggled just to “get up” for my own. It’s easy to normalize one’s own experience and forget that others don’t have the same history that chains them to your way of thinking. As a personal goal, I’ve tried to grow to appreciate the birthdays of others more than I do for myself, but it is hard. It takes effort. It takes straining at those self-imposed chains until they loosen enough to let you breathe.

What a strange experience to reflect on for you birthday. My birthday wish, though: keep chipping away at this whole “mental health” thing, world.

I told my brother yesterday that I was petitioning the NCAA to see if they can grant me an eligibility extension on life since, really, these pandemic years have hampered my ability to participate fully. Looking back, 36 was sort of a “blah” pandemic blur, and I really think I’d like some extra years at the end to make up for them. The NCAA has that power, right?

Change is hard, and as we all continue to adapt to the new reality, I think its important to keep a sense of humor and remember that progress is often non-linear. It may take a meandering path that still arrives at its destination. Here’s hoping that 37 continues to meander somewhere meaningful, and that I can overcome my personal hurdles in order to enjoy the sights along the way.


Happy Halloween

It’s been scary long since I’ve written to you, Dear Journal. It’s so bad that I even failed to mark Blair’s first birthday. It seems that, at least in my family, the “not the first child” syndrome is hitting us hard. Don’t get me wrong, we completely love Blair and are still in-person very excited by all of her milestones. We just often fail at capturing/documenting them. The old trope where the first born has a stuffed full baby book and the rest have a birth certificate comes to mind. Fortunately, we’re not that bad. One of the benefits of being part of the iPhone generation is that a quality camera is pretty much always in my pocket. While my kids may never know the joy of a clear plastic photo album, they will have plenty of photos and video clips.

Well, anyway, happy belated 1st birthday, Blair. I promise the pictures from your party are on your mom’s phone. I snagged these:


Last Friday, For Chance

Today is the day. I have had a good, long adventure with my Favorite Person, and it is time. She will miss me, but we traveled together to where we were supposed to travel to, and it is time. This is the Destination.

Standing from my bed is a challenge. When did I get so heavy? Is it because of all the treats? There have been a lot of treats. Peanut butter is, obviously, the best. There have been a lot of nice people, too. Kind of like the treats, I feel like there’s been more of them as we’ve gotten close to the Destination. That’s good, because I love people. They smell so interesting, you just have to lick them. And maybe if they smell so good, you want to nibble – just a little – but, no. Not hard. Lightly. That’s what is Good. And I am Good. I know that. It has been my life’s goal.

My Person opens the door and we move go outside. This is a new door, different than the many other doors, but for a while now is has been the door. Outside smells so good. I love outside. This is not the door for walks, but for the outside with the metal around it. This outside is nice. It has a similar smell as the other, bigger outside, and I can roam around as I please. And there are the small, furry guys to chase back into the trees. They’re good fun, even if they try to take advantage when I’m inside.

The other outside, the one for walks, is an even better outside. There are more smells, even if I have to be on a leash. Leashes are silly. I mean, it’s not like I would go anywhere. Okay, I might go smell all of the things, but I’ll be right back. I’ll always be back. This is my home. Not the wood box part, as I know humans might think – I’ve been in a lot of those – but the place my Person is. That’s True Home.

I miss walks, but they’ve been so hard lately. I’ll still go on them because, well… they’re walks. But if I’m being honest, it’s been hard to enjoy them as much as I used to. Walking hurts. Breathing is much harder than it once was. And I’m so much heavier. It must be those stupid treats. But… they’re treats. What would you do?

I’m thirsty. Can treats make you thirsty? I’m glad the humans put some water here. It’s nice to have water and outside. When it’s cold, you can’t always do that. The water gets hard. But it’s nice today. Perfect really. There’s a breeze, and new smells sometimes ride the wind. New smells are the best.

I pause as the full force of the smells hits me. It’s also bright. Very bright. So, I squint and smell. And then she’s calling me to follow, my beautiful Person. I love her. I really do. She wants to be outside, too. Yes, let’s go sit outside.

Whoa, the Man is here. He’s the Man with All the Smells. So many smells on him. He must be the Person to a lot of dogs. He’s nice, but I already have a Person and I’m very happy with mine. Doesn’t hurt to have a little lick though, right?

I can tell my Person is sad. She just… screams sad. Not really screams as humans scream with their mouth, but screams how dogs scream. I don’t even know if scream is the right word. I’ve only gotten good at words through a very long time of practice and lots and lots of repetition. Which also generally gets me treats, so… I’m happy to learn. I’d do it even without the treats because I’m Good. In fact, my human is reminding me of this even now while she’s petting me. Of course I’m Good. Lick.

I wish she wouldn’t be sad, but I think I understand why she’s sad. She’s sad that it is time. That we’ve reached the Destination. We all know you only get to journey together so long, and then you have to go back to the Big Home. Not the True Home like with your Person down here, but the Big Home up there where all the Persons are. It’s hard to explain to humans because they’re so dense. It just is, and that’s Good. Dogs understand this better than humans. Humans sometimes want to pretend that it isn’t, but it is. Nothing can avoid this. And it’s Good. Humans need to work harder at understanding the Good. Then, I think maybe they’d not be sad so much.

Still, leaving is sad. I get it. I’ve been around enough to understand some of the denseness of humans. Like, I don’t really like cars so much, and sometimes we have to go somewhere in a car, and while that’s not really sad, it’s not the best, either. Not like smells, or treats, or outside with the red ball. So this leaving is kind of like that but without the car. It’s not the best, especially for my human because it is not her time to go to the Big Home. I have to go first. I have to help get ready. It’s part of being Good. So I’m not sad, but I get it.

I’d better go give that other human that lives with us a lick. He’s pretty good too. Not Good good, but pretty good. He deserves a lick before I have to leave. I think I’ve licked everyone that needs licking, and he can be last. It is almost time, and that seems like the Good way to do things. It’s strange how humans always struggle so much to know what is Good. Can’t they just listen to that voice inside that tells them? Maybe it’s not as loud as it is for dogs. Maybe that’s why they struggle so much. They need bigger ears, probably.

Hmm, that lick was surprisingly exhausting. I know you’re supposed to get tired when it is time, but man… it kind of just hits you. It’s not bad, though. It feels good as it washes through me. Relieving. I don’t feel so… heavy. Like a treat for all the treats.

She wants me to lay next to her for one last time. That’s Good. I wasn’t sure because I know I need to look for the Light soon, but it really feels like I can do both. I can lay next to her and the Light will find me. Yes. That’s Good. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

“I love you, Chancey-boy,” she says.

I know you do, Favorite Person. I love you, too. That’s what I was here for. That’s what this adventure was all about.

I close my eyes, allowing myself a relaxing sigh. It feels good out here. Everything is just right. But there’s one more thing I need to tell my Person: She needs to Stay. I know that word. Really, really well. Stay. It’s my turn to tell you, and I scream it as best I can. How dogs scream it, with their whole body: Stay.

It’s time for me, but it is not time for you. I need to go get things ready for you. It is Good, but you Stay. Stay and do all the things we learned together. Stay and eat treats. Stay and play outside. Stay and go for walks. Stay and snuggle and Love. These are Good. And when it is time for you, I will be ready. Because I am Good and you are mine in the Big Home. It just is.

Ahhhh, there’s the Light. It is now, finally, time. What a truly Good adventure we had together. See you soon.


Birthday Gratitude

First of all, thank you to everyone who shared birthday wishes to me via all the various ways we share them these days. I’m not great at acknowledging birthdays of others, so I definitely appreciate it when people go out of their way to acknowledge mine. I tend to be pretty laid back about birthdays, though my wife is completely the opposite and takes it as a personal crusade to make sure everyone has a card, cake, and ice cream on their birthday.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, so I thought it appropriate to share my first thoughts as a freshly minted 36-year-old on here. First things first, to officially feel my age, I slept wrong on my hip last week and it still hurts. So I’ve been complaining about my hip. I’m not sure there is anything that is as quintessentially old as complaining about hip pain that you acquired by “sleeping wrong.”

It’s not all bad getting old, though. One of the perks is that I’ve had time now to save up my pennies to be able to afford some cool stuff. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for cool cars, but also tried to be sensible with my purchases over the years. I started out after college with a Pontiac G6, and I really had a thing for Pontiacs, but the brand shut down and I eventually moved on from that car. I snagged a “superhero blue” Kia Optima next, which I got in one of the higher trims, and I drove for 9 years and 165k miles. I don’t know that either car is “cool,” but they were cool to me as they were what I could afford, and what I picked out. In particular, I loved my Optima, and was sad when it became clear that is was approaching time to move on.

Though, I spent a decade as an automotive engineer, I’m not really a gear-head. That is to say, I know my way around a car, but I’m not one of those guys that can tear apart an engine or keep an old car running for years with a little elbow grease. I change my own oil and rotate my tires, but otherwise stick to the simple stuff and trust a licensed mechanic for when I have real problems. Fortunately, the Kia was a great car that avoided a lot of problems

Being able to drive the crap out of a car like that also allows you avoid car payments for a long time (depending on when you were able to close out the loan). For me, I was fortunate to have been able to save for four years and even sell the car for a bit to someone that can help ease her into her senior years as a useful vehicle. I took that money and leveraged it into my next attempt at “cool.” I wanted a full EV, and after a bit of research, took the plunge into a Tesla Model 3.

I’d like to think that Teslas are objectively more “cool” than my previous vehicles, but part of getting old is also losing the ability to properly judge “cool.” That being said, if you’ve ever poked around in a Tesla, you know that they combine cars and tech in a way that is, I can confidently say, at the very least “nerdy cool.” As an electronics engineer, it definitely pegs my geek meter, and I’m super excited about the car. It’s something 22 year old me would definitely have been jealous of, but could no way have afforded, so… a perk of getting old.

Apart from a major car change for me, a lot has happened in this past year. My previous post on this was chronicling the birth of my second daughter, so that’s a huge deal. Raising kids during this whole pandemic stuff has been challenging to say the least. Kids are hard anyway, but then we’ve been stuck in our house with not a lot of options far too much.

I’m trying to focus on gratefulness here, though, so the perk is that I’ve really gotten to be around my kids more. I’ve been working from home, so that’s let me be around far more than in a “normal” year. Another perk is one that my 22 year old self would not necessarily have understood. Our oldest, Brooke, had a doctor’s appointment last week. The office does something that likely most pediatric practices do, where they will give a kid a sticker if they are well behaved.

Brooke, accompanied by her mom and sister, tagged along on an appointment because she’d been pulling at her ear. Parents will know that any time you can package appointments, you take it, so it was sort of a surprise test for my wife who now had to take both girls instead of only Blair as she’d been planning. Still, we’re both still learning how to juggle two, and it wasn’t without trepidation that Kate approached the appointment. With a toddler, you’re always one tiny hair away from melt down.

Brooke was a perfect big sister, however. She listened and followed directions. She was concerned when her baby sister got a shot. She wore her little mask the whole time without tugging on it. It was as if we had coached her up for weeks beforehand (we had not). The nurse even commented that Brooke must go to a daycare where they wear masks, as she was being so good about it (she does not). So, she got a sticker.

As a parent, when I heard the story and saw Brooke’s pride in having earned a sticker, I wanted to frame that sucker in a golden frame and stick it up on the wall. I totally get now why my mom saved stupid things like my grade school report cards or pictures I drew in kindergarten. It’s a perk of being old that I can find such joy in something so small. I think that must be a wisdom that only comes with age and experience, because 22 year old me would totally have not understood.

In case you are concerned, we did not frame the sticker, nor file it away in a plastic container to return to Brooke when she’s 35. We are trying really hard to not become our parents, at least not completely. (There are, of course, a lot of positives we learned from them that we have no problem stealing. Hoarding tiny achievements that only a parent would appreciate is one we’re trying to avoid. I mean there’s gotta be a line, right? First doctor sticker for wearing a pandemic mask well is probably not something you save, right? I mean we took like two-dozen photos, so we’re definitely not ruining our daughter’s life by not saving a sticker in our already cluttered storage spaces… right? We have the memory. We’ll show her the photos. And they’ll even be digital so she won’t have to store some big album that who knows what you do with when you’re 36. Though, when she’s 36, she’ll probably tell me my thumb drive is stupid or whatever. This is what parents are supposed to debate about, right? How best to capture every moment of childhood without seeming completely crazy… Right?)

Anyway, 36 is pretty good. I can’t complain. Well, I can. About my hip. Sitting in this chair typing this long thing has made it sore again. I’d better get up and stretch. Just, don’t judge me, Dear Journal, when I waddle around for the first few steps like an old man. It’s hell getting old. (But not everything!)


Hello, Word – Blair, Probably

What a difference experience makes. The second time around, our birthing story was much less dramatic than the first. It helped that we were expecting Blair to come a couple weeks early, so when she held on to 39 weeks, we were quite ready. We had our bags packed, and everything planned.

Of course, there were things outside of our control. Like how I decided to push it on Sunday night and talk to the neighbors until 2AM. Normally, we’d been turning in early and, with everything still limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn’t been hard to be home at reasonable hours. Kate was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday, Sep 8, so I figured I could treat myself on the night before Monday, Sep 7, 2020.

Not 20 minutes after my head hit the pillow, Kate woke me to let me know her water had broken. For those of you that followed our last birthing story, you’ll know that there is no messing around when it comes to my wife and child birth. We’d been waiting for some clear contractions, but apparently this adventure was going to start with a water feature.

Fortunately, due to the aforementioned preparations, I wiped the nascent sleep from my eyes, grabbed the bags, and we hopped in the car with little preamble. We were also lucky because Kate’s mother was staying with us that night (we’d had grandparent coverage for a little over a week or so at this point, just in case), so we let her know, and she held down the fort in our absence.

The drive over did not feature any transitioning, crowning, or reckless driving. It was calm and quiet on the roads at 2:30AM, and we cruised easily to the hospital. Kate was able to actually take in the journey, with only a few contractions interrupting our conversation on the ride over.

We both walked into triage on our own power; no one needed to hover on a wheel chair. We had plenty of time for the initial examination and, at a good 6-7cm, we were definitely eligible for our birthing suite. We got to hang out a good hour or so before everything was ready. (And, by “hang out,” I mean Kate labored while I tried to figure out what to do after goal one of “get her there” had been accomplished so expediently.) Finally, the most intense half hour of any parent’s life was upon us: the actual birthing.

There is really no describing the intensity of the moment. The closest I’ve ever come is probably during the final seconds of some sort of sporting championship, where you feel time slows down and everything hinges on every little decision. Except in this case, as the male support in the room, you’re just sort of sitting there. Even so, you feel completely exhausted when all is said and done, which is just shameful because, again, as the male support in the room, you are on the bench with no chance of entering the game.

My wife, however, having come up through the rough and tumble Triage Delivery minors, was able to actually focus on only the pushing part for this stint in the Big Show. It probably turned out to be overkill for her Perennial All-Star type of birthing ability, as with all the expert support on the field in the form of a doctor and a bevy of nurses in an actual birthing suite, she gave it three good, hard pushes, and we had ourselves a Blair at 5:35AM.

All in all, clearly a quality start, if I do say so myself. Efficient, to be sure, but well-executed labor on Labor Day all the same.

Now, we did have to contend with some pandemic considerations: wearing masks the whole time, not able to leave the premises, extreme hand washing, etc. It was definitely a long 48 hours of no visitors before we were able to take our new family member home. We roughed it by doordashing Cheesecake Factory.

Now, Blair did have the Hofferth-standard Bilirubin Watch (TM). Though the 2020 version features a new, crazy, bedside fiber optic blanket. That, combined with the requisite pandemic masks, really made us feel like were delivering in The Future. What do you think, Dear Journal:


If I Saw You In Heaven

I lifted the bourbon and ginger ale to my lips and wondered, How did I get here? The last thing I remembered was laying down last night, and then suddenly, here I am in a bar. At least the drinks are good, I thought as I sipped.

From my vantage point in a corner booth, I could see the whole venue. It wasn’t a big bar – not crowded, either – but the bartender worked at a steady clip. A white, fluffy haze hung over everything. Not smoke, exactly. More like clouds floating through the room. The air was fresh, clean, and a calm joy settled over me as I took in the scene.

Patrons traded laughs and hugs, reminiscing about past encounters. Soft music wafted from a live band somewhere unseen. The beat was lively, with a brisk melody that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I began trying to hum along. If I could just hit enough of the notes, the words would surely come to me.

I lifted my glass to take another sip and froze as I recognized one of the patrons at the bar. It was my father, as I’d remembered him in the years before he’d gotten ill and passed away. He looked fantastic, vibrant and happy, and I wanted to get up and go to him. Yet, something held me back.

Just as I was wondering if he’d turn and look my way, Ted perked up. He wasn’t looking at me, but at the door. He’d apparently seen someone that he recognized through the window.

More of the white haze puffed in as the door swung open and, at first, I could only see the silhouette of the man. He was tall and broad-shouldered, radiating a strength that might have seemed intimidating in another setting. The closing door brushed away the smoke to reveal a wide, warm smile attached to another face I recognized. My uncle reached out to clasp my father’s hand.

“Hey Chuck, sorry about the ride there at the end,” my father said.

My uncle replied, “No problem. I mean, I kind of saw it coming.”

My dad chuckled and patted him on the shoulder. “It’s not like that for everyone.”

“So what’s next?” My uncle asked.

My dad smiled warmly. “You talked to some folks on your way in, right?”

Chuck nodded.

“There will be more. Lots more. I’m glad I got this opportunity, though. I owe you a beer.”

I hadn’t seen the bartender slide anything their way, and yet suddenly I realized there were beers in their hands. It looked like some sort of light beer for my dad, while Chuck held a colorful IPA. I took another sip of bourbon, absently trying to place the flavor. Angel’s Envy?

“Really? Why’s that?” Chuck asked.

My dad took a pull from his bottle and nodded appreciatively. “My kids really looked up to you after I had to leave.”

Chuck sipped his own pint, nodding thoughtfully before replying, “It’s tough not having your father around, but you make do with what you have. I was lucky to have some good examples thrown my way.”

“My boys, too,” my dad agreed, fixing his brother-in-law with a significant stare.

Chuck smiled, a bit of warmth rising in his cheeks, and then raised his glass. My dad touched the rims together, and then they both turned toward the bar where I noticed a television for the first time.

“Cubs up?” Chuck asked.

Ted nodded. “They’ve been playing some great ball, lately. I wish they’d do a little more small ball, but….” He shrugged.

They watched with contentment for a long moment before Chuck said, “Any beaches around here?”

My dad laughed, nodding. “Sailboats too. Or, anything you want, really.” He pointed. “Check it out, just around the corner there.”

Chuck nodded, rising. For a moment, they both turned toward me and smiled. But then I was falling, crashing back into my sleeping body.

I jolted awake. But then I smiled, rolled over, and went back to sleep.