The ENFP friend(s)

I have always been very particular about trust.  I am very protective of myself, very self sufficient, and the idea of actually needing others and relying on others makes me want to vomit, quite literally.  However, I have two very dear ENFP friends who I offer up my life to, including all the feels.  Despite these two (one male, one female) having the same MBTI type, you could not find two more different people.  In an effort to keep anonymity, the female ENFP is light, easy, and the friendliest person you’ll ever meet, with a zany intelligence that will match anyone toe for toe, all while being a devoted and talented musician (we were each other’s biggest competition in high school).  We have been inseparable since fourth grade.  The male and I actually have a little bit of a history.  We met at an honor band in high school.  There was an instant attraction (I think we went from meeting to making out in the span of an hour and a half).  We kept up with each other off and on through college (he went to one SEC school, while I went to its rival), and have remained facebook friends.  He is simultaneously the lightest yet deepest person I have ever met.  He also is hands down the most talented musician I have ever known, ever.  We reconnected over the summer as his marriage was falling apart.  Somewhere along the line, I became a deeply trusted confidant, and still hold that role.  While the nature is purely platonic in this context, the friendship has been fast, fierce, and enduring.  Additionally, he is possibly the most accepting person of me as me that I’ve ever known (my husband is a very close second on that front, but does sometimes have issues with my dry logic).  Between the two of them, they have gotten me back into music, and he has helped me branch back out and make a few select friends (although floating 5 friendships all at once is seriously exhausting).

It brings an interesting twist to life, as I’ve been married for 7 years now.  Can you be friends with someone of the opposite sex?  I say (and firmly believe) yes.  We have acknowledged the history.  My husband knows of the history.  I’m annoyingly transparent about our friendship (also exhausting).  Admittedly, if we were both single, I might completely uproot my life to be with this guy, but I’m mostly happily married, and he has a girlfriend, plus is fixing to go through what will no undoubtedly be an awful divorce.  Most people say the heart wants what it can’t have, but really, with me, the mind looks at the whole situation and says it’ll never be, so why want.

I write about this today, as the issue was an issue yesterday.  My male friend was having a particularly emotional day, so he called.  I talked while entertaining our almost two year old toddler, and cooking dinner.  Afterwards, there was a huge explosive fight, followed by lots of silence, and ‘I love you’s’ on my husband’s part, which has continued into today.  My guy friend and husband have not ever met.  There are tentative plans for the two of them to meet around Christmas (he doesn’t live close at all), but that is all very tentative.  I don’t make light of the relationship my guy ENFP and I have.  I won’t lie; I’ve spent many hours pondering what could have been, and whether it would have worked.  But, at a place that I am at now, I really do believe he’s just my pal.  Probably one of my best friends, but nonetheless a friend.

So what do you do with that?  Obviously it’s a spring stretching to its tightness juggling my friend and husband.  Running in the background is my father, who is fighting with lung cancer (never smoker, don’t judge), and will probably die in the nearer future.  It’s been a battle for four years, which is insanely remarkable, but we are nearing that critical point of cancer ratio to organs.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) my male friend’s father also died of cancer.  Sometimes you need that connection when you need to be negative, or realistic.  The giant red line in the sand has been drawn.  On occasion, my husband challenges it, but then steps back realizing that I do love him (and our son) dearly.

Time will tell, I know, but in the meantime, life is a tangled dysfunctional mess.


The very beginning . . .

For my whole life, I have always felt like a bit of a square peg in a round hole.  I get along with people, sometimes, on the surface level, but have always found myself constantly longing for something deeper.  I have been lucky.  I am married, most of the time happily married, and have a small, very tight network of friends.  I had always attributed it to just being weird and intelligent, with an out of the box set of interests, that just didn’t appeal to most people.  In walks the Myers Briggs test.  I was instantly hooked.  I’m an INTJ female, which encompasses a lowly 0.8% of the population.  All of my experiences during childhood, and the quest for a significant other, were instantly explained.

Continue reading “The very beginning . . .”

Houston, part une

I apologize for any typos. I type this from my phone today, and I will be the first to say that I am a lousy texter. Today, I got up at 4am to make the four hour drive to Houston with my dad. As I type, he’s resting in our hotel room and I am watching people buzz around the lobby, while listening to Mozart’s Requiem. Despite technically being funeral music, the Requiem is really beautiful. I’ve been listening to it on and off most of a week now. It’s a love my dad and I mutually share.

Tomorrow is kind of a big deal. It kind of determines the future. I have many many more thoughts but not the energy or desire to text them into a phone.

To be continued….

It rhymes with Snot

This weekend, I ventured a bit out of my comfort zone.  I will be the first to admit that when experimenting with substances, my knowledge is limited.  Very limited.  I’m quite comfortable with booze.  I’ve been around other substances, but have always been concerned with experimenting as you don’t necessarily know where it came from, and what all is in it, etc., but in light of the legalization of a certain substance in a certain number of states, coming across unadulterated edibles of choice is not what it used to be.  I was with experienced folks, who knew exactly how to dose me.  A great time was had by all.  2 gummies and a 5mg capsule (yes, 25 mg.  I apparently metabolize the stuff about like I do pain meds, and unlike how I handle alcohol) over about 3 hours, and there was nothing that would not make me laugh.  The Olympics are a great thing to watch when high.  I’m pretty sure there is a diet coke commercial that I’ll never quite see the same way.

Anyway, the point of this isn’t what I did or didn’t do Saturday evening.  The point is that in my serious, quiet, INTJ way, it’s something that most people would never suspect or expect of me.  Admittedly, as the evening was being planned the day before, two of my co-workers were not so funnily poking fun about how they knew how to party with Mardi Gras, as a direct jab at my quiet, unparty like demeanor.  Mostly I let it brush off, as I’ve taken the route of not allowing most of my co-workers to get close.  But, you still hear it.  You still absorb it.

Within the INTJ realm, there are layers.  I like to think of them as circles, kind of like a solar system, but with relationships, instead of people.  You have me, in the center, the sun what have you.  The sun has a big wide circle, but instead of it being something radiating heat, which melts everything that gets close to it, it pushes all but a very few special souls away, repelling with a great magnetic field.  Within that inner orbit, I’d say my husband, Mr. ENFP, and Dr. ENFP are the only residents.  There’s another circle that’d represent from say Mercury through Mars (the rocky planets with smaller orbits).  This would house another select group of people – some other friends who I haven’t talked much about – the hair stylists, Mr. INFP (who I don’t think I’ve talked about at all; he’s a fellow horn player, who is weird, yet lovely).  They know me reasonably well, but may not receive that level of dependent trust that say my husband, or Mr. ENFP have.  Beyond that is the gassy giants.  Included in that realm would be coworkers who I like, members of the community band that I like, generally people that I like, but would never really hang out with, or divest anything of personal interest.  They exist around me, and not negatively, but are of no real consequence.  Obviously, once you get to the equivalent of Neptune and Pluto, there are the folks that I don’t care for, but you get the gist.  Everything is in layers, and unless you’re in that first or second layer, you won’t know much about me.

The next day, Mr. ENFP made a joke about me becoming a regular pothead (snothead sounds gross, and with the flu so rampant, including at work, I just can’t).  I kind of brushed it off at the time, but today it came back up.  He said that while he didn’t expect me to be a full on pothead, he did think he could see me being a casual recreational user, especially as legality increases.  It brought an idea home – there are all of these things that people judge you for.  I’m perceived as a stiff, rigid, non fun haver, but in reality, I’m open to a great many things, including questionably legal substances, with the right people, and have been for quite some time.  I was around lots of substances in college.  I opted not to partake because most of the time it involved smoking it, which wasn’t going to happen, and then if it didn’t, you never knew exactly what you were getting, so I just avoided it altogether.  Is the person that those on the fringes see the same as the person as Mr. ENFP sees?  Probably.  But, I’ve always seen that person as an armadillo tightly balled up, with armor that barely a car can crush.  Inside that armor is a soft, genuine person, who with the right people, can open your whole world, and allow you into theirs.  They’re all the same armadillo, but how far in can you get?

Where as a lot of folks would make a huge deal that I did something that would be considered hugely out of character for me, Mr. ENFP blessed it, encouraged it, told me to have fun, and was neither judgmental nor overly excited about it.  He has commented on multiple occasions the want of understanding my brain, but he neither judges it nor has predisposed expectations of it.  Generally, I feel the same way about the world around me.  While I know that different people have different levels of depth to them, I like to think that we are all multifaceted individuals.  But maybe we’re not.

In any case, all this means nothing, as we are less than one week from a return trip to Houston.  That was really the purpose of Saturday.  It was before anxiety kicked in, but an opportunity to let all the woes of the world go away for a few hours, so that a good, side stitching laugh could be had among friends.  The anxiety is real today.  Part of the reason I keep rambling on in this post is it occupies my hands, which in part, occupies my brain.  So much rides on this one scan.  Is the drug working?  Is it killing cancer?  Is there less organ involvement?  Is my dad doing better?  Will he be ok?  How long will he be ok?  These are questions constantly plaguing my thoughts.  We will know soon.

Given the opportunity would I do it again?  Absolutely.  As long as it was the regulated pure stuff.  None of that street crap.  And edible.  I have a dad with lung cancer.  I’ve never smoked anything, nor do I have any plans to do so.  It rhymes with snot.  It’s ______!

The zing and a whole lot of honesty…

Last night, Mr. ENFP and I had an interesting conversation.  He’s been planning for the fall as far as teaching schedules, and taking on gigs, and basically just moving towards the future in Phoenix.  All of this seemed pretty standard until he dropped the bomb that he didn’t know why, but he just couldn’t see himself there in the fall.  Upon further pondering, he said he’d gotten to three conclusions – either he moved, his mom got sick, or he died, and only one of those options was palatable.  Unfortunately, he had to teach a class, and I had to return to work, which is where we left it.  But again, last night, it came up.  He said he had a dream shortly after moving to Phoenix about walking with some girl downtown, who wasn’t his then girlfriend, to be wife, now ex.  He didn’t know who it was at the time, but he didn’t know the girl then either.  He went on a walk downtown with his now girlfriend, and said that he very much had that de ja vu feeling.  He remembered the dream – which is now approximately four years old – and thinks it was her.

He and I have talked about our intuition many times.  His seems to present things that are way far off; mine presents things that are close.  I’ve only ever told him this, but I’ve had a semi recurring dream that my husband dies in a car wreck on a bridge that’s close to our house.  I’ve had it on occasion for years, and each time, I’m terrified when I wake up.  Unfortunately, neither of us know when our intuition is actually intuition, or just randomness.  This recurring dream of mine could be the fear of losing my husband, or it could be foretelling the future.  I will never know, until I know.

This also led into even deeper more interesting conversation.  Our friendship has been based on complete openness, complete trust, and complete honesty.  Now, most people would say all of their friendships and relationships are based on this, which to an extent, they are.  But, this is different.  For example, yesterday, he was annoyed at his roommate’s girlfriend who has practically become a squatter, so he was just agitated, which is out of character for him.  I began bombarding him with text messages, which annoyed him a bit, but somewhere along the line, I dropped the phrase that when he’s agitated, for some reason I get clingy, even when I know that the reason for his agitation has nothing to do with me.  That one clarifying statement was apparently some shining beam for him, and now he wishes all of his relationship could have that open clarity, that raw honesty.   But, the reason this friendship manifested in this way was how we reconnected.  We had a past.  We’d been in and out of each other’s lives for a significant time in itself (late high school through undergrad).  There had always been a strong connection, whether romantic or otherwise with us.  When we reconnected, he was in a place of need, and I was in a place of discontent.  The connection of just getting each other was just as strong as ever.  He stated very openly that he loved my dry honesty (very brass tacks, as he calls it), and I loved his comfort with my discomfort of emotions, and his ability to calmly let me unwind them, even when I really just didn’t understand what I was feeling.

9ish months later that trust and openness has continued and grown by leaps and bounds.  Rather than awkwardly trying to feel out what’s going on, if something is going on, I share.  If something he’s doing (or anyone for that matter) is aggravating me, I share.  That lack of guessing where someone stands, what is going on in their head, how they feel, is apparently treasured by him.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that can exist in a romantic relationship.  Romantic relationships develop over time.  There are vulnerabilities that he and I don’t share.  And, even with my husband, I don’t experience the complete openness that Mr. ENFP and I have.  There’s always a slight reservation, a slight level of self-protection.  I feel like the stakes are lower with Mr. ENFP.  I adore him, and this is possibly the best friendship I’ve ever had, but he’s not here.  There is no trying to impress or woo him.  He’s my friend.  He knows a lot about me and my life, but he’s not an active variable in the day to day.  He’s not here.  If something happened to him, I would no doubt be devastated, but my life wouldn’t really change that much.  Frankly, I don’t know that this depth of friendship could truly be developed in person either.

We facetimed for the first time in a long time last Saturday.  I was without makeup, and his beard has gotten quite scraggly (which I have pestered him about almost daily since).  When we hung up, I immediately thought to myself that the zing was back, which gave me momentary pause, but that I hadn’t thought about since until last night.  What if he has feelings for me?  When my husband and I were in the trenches, I’ll admit that he’d crept out of the ‘friends’ box a few times, but as far as I know, I never have to him.

I mean, what if he does?  Still, he’s in Phoenix, and I’m in Louisiana.  I’m married.  He’s still not divorced.  As he got left for infidelity, the last thing he’d ever do would be to cause infidelity.  And, strangely enough, zing or not, he’s solidly in my friend’s box.

I expect we will talk more about this today, which will give me the opportunity to feel (hah) out what exactly is going on with him – i.e., is he unhappy with the girlfriend, is she lacking in something that he needs, etc.

I see so many places that the INTJ/ENFP match was a match made in heaven.  Put a ring on it.  Blah blah blah.  And most of the time I roll my eyes and keep going.  But the things that make it a match made in heaven are so ridiculously true even in friendship.  I ground Mr. ENFP, and offer him a steadiness and structure that his life lacks (his words not mine; I often wonder what he likes so much about this serious, territorial, sometimes grouchy redhead).  I text around the same frequency every day.  I have a schedule that I just naturally follow.  I am mostly organized, and generally put together.  Likewise, he brings me out of my guarded state and makes me laugh.  We can have the most rambling of conversations that make perfect sense to both of us, even though there’s no visible linear connection to anyone not in the conversation.  And, we both push each other forward in life, for the sake of each other.  But what happens if the INTJ and ENFP that is supposed to be the idea match don’t line up at the right time?  What happens if the INTJ is married, mostly happily, and loves her INFJ husband, and the ENFP lives 1252 miles away?  I mean is it some sort of cruel fated joke?  Or, maybe it’s meant to serve as a reminder, that there will always be love in my life, when I have had so much of my life (until I started dating my husband), where I felt love-less.

I believe this is the example of where INTJs are terrible at just feeling their emotions.  No logic will help this situation at all, ever.  It’s all feels here.  In the meantime, I’ll be grateful for a truly wonderful friendship, and equally grateful for a husband whom I love dearly, and who loves me.

The Push Towards the Living

We are two weeks out from my dad’s first pet scan with the new drug.  As we are on a series of greatly decreasing quality of PET scans, my awareness of the calendar is constant.  I have no reason to think that his quality of life is not improving – in fact quite the opposite.  But, after being given overly optimistic hopes before on the newest drug, I am quite reserved about offering up my hope.  In an effort to try to reset in what has been a very busy time at work, I stayed home and introverted all weekend.  To clarify, by stayed home, I went outside Sunday afternoon, and made it to the middle of the driveway.  I mostly stayed away from social media, email, and work email.

While it was a much needed reset, I still don’t feel as if I got down to a base level.  Last night, I woke up after midnight covered in sweat.  For probably a week, sleep has been, at best, erratic, and, at worst, minimal.  I know everyone [should] love their parents, but my dad and I are particularly close.  Losing him – whenever that happens – will be truly tragic.  Unfortunately, I have reached an age where parents are starting to die.  Death is not this far away thing.  I mean, it could be, but my parents are not of an unreasonable age to die, and neither are those around them.  This weekend, a childhood friend’s mother died of cancer, which admittedly, I didn’t even know she had.  There have been several other deaths close by, and all I see is that upcoming PET scan, and a reminder that someday, I will have to write that awful message on Facebook about my father.

I feel like I am constantly reminded of death these days.  The flu is seriously no joke this year.  My office folk and I have lucked out that the flu has managed to stay away.   It’s come close several times, but only one or two have actually had it.  I don’t touch the doorknobs of the building, and have started hand-washing almost to the level of when the toddler was in the NICU.  There is no room for the flu this year.  It causes me to step back though – here we are in what is supposed to be the world’s preeminent country on everything (or so we would lead you to believe).  Yet, we can’t keep up with production of Tamiflu, our hospitals are overrun with flu patients, and people are dying – actually dying – from the flu.  This is hardly an epidemic.   The flu vaccine has marginal efficacy this year, and nobody is doing anything to change that.  Stores of medicine aren’t being produced, funding for research is being slashed to bits, and everyone is expected to fend for themselves.  This band aid approach is ok for now, but what happens when there really is an epidemic of something more deadly?  At what point in time do we as a country actually start caring for our country, instead of this minuscule percentile of people who pretend to run the place?  There’s absolutely no reason why we cannot find a vaccine for the flu in general, not just some year to year strain that sometimes works.

Diphtheria is making a comeback.  Measles has made some appearances.  One of my friend’s kids had whooping cough as a baby before she was vaccinated.  Only because she had a very proactive pediatrician who followed her gut before tests were confirmed is she alive today.  These are diseases that were all but eradicated as the herd was successfully vaccinated.  Now as people question whether the vaccines work, or whether they’re necessary, or whether they cause autism, or any other load of crap that comes with besides actually vaccinating, diseases that had once been all but gone are coming back.  Sure, we have better medicines now, and they probably don’t kill as many people, but there is a reason that we worked to eradicate these diseases.  As a child, anytime someone got the chicken pox, family members would try to expose you to make sure you weren’t one of the kids who made it to adulthood without ever having chicken pox.  Somehow, I made it to the third grade, and was almost hospitalized with it.  My toddler got a shot to prevent it just after his first birthday.

We are supposed to be a nation of greatness.  Instead, we focus on all the things that dead white guys did, from former presidents and lawmakers, inventors of the past, all the way to dead composers.  These people won’t help us.  These innovators are former, not current.  We have to look out for ourselves, fund research, and take risks to solve the problems of today.  Slashing medical research, limiting access to healthcare, decreasing protections and regulations on the world around us, allowing our infrastructure to crumble and collapse, and then taking a ‘not me’ approach when it does exactly that (looking at you all of you folks who claim Puerto Rico, except whenever she needs our help) will not protect us from the next pandemic, whatever that may be.  This year’s flu season should be a resounding alarm.  Instead, I think most people will look on it as coincidence.

Lesson numero uno

In college, I was, shall we say, lazy.  If there was no attendance policy, I attended class as little as possible.  In one of my general ed English classes (mind you I was an English minor), I went to discussion lab exactly twice.  I made a B.  The anger that the TA had for me at any moment was palpable.  Generally, I was decent enough to learn on my own what I needed to learn to make A’s and B’s, and I saw no point in actually going to class to achieve this.  I was a music major.  Most of our teachers saw that musicians are by trade inherently lazy, and so most of our teachers had fairly stringent attendance policies.  In theory (music theory, not an idea), you had a maximum of 7 absences.  That sounds like a lot, but theory was everyday, Monday through Friday, until your last semester, and then it was four days a week.  Get a good stomach flu and those suckers were gone.

Additionally, midway through college, my horn teacher moved to Utah.  She was fantastic.  She was quiet yet stern, and directly lead my instruction without me feeling as if I was being told what to do.  I was always slightly terrified of her; mostly terrified of disappointing her.  She was tiny – maybe 5’2, 120 lbs., and had a quiet voice and demeanor.  In all likelihood, I had nothing to be scared of, but she had me pegged and quickly.  So, we got a new horn teacher.  Going from the idea of ‘this is what you WILL learn to be a good horn player, whether you want to or not’ to ‘what do you think you need to learn,’ was terrible for me.  Add in some late college burn out, and I did the bare minimum necessary.  I didn’t practice much.  I didn’t learn all of the things I should have, and I never put on a recital.  It was not required, so I did not do it.  Period.  I already knew that I didn’t want to play horn for a living; why should I be bothered to do all this extra stuff that was going to cause me to do more work?

So fast forward to now, at 34.  I’ve started playing, as has been discussed, and there are all of these things that I don’t know that I now know that I don’t know.  I haven’t played all of the Mozart concertos.  My technique is only ok.  My sound is good, and I have a fantastic ear, but I just feel like there isn’t the knowledge to back it all up.  I took my first lesson Saturday.  In the tradition of keeping folks nameless, he was amazing.   He went to school with Dr. ENFP, and he came highly recommended by her.  When I’d ask her what he was like, she gave little response, saying that he was very nice, but also quite serious.  Granted, Dr. ENFP is not serious.  She is light, funny, and happy, almost always.  But, his seriousness kept coming up over and over again.

I went into my lesson completely unsure of what to expect. I was met with a gently happy, reserved man, who obviously loved horn.  He was serious, yet warm.  We had easy conversation.  While there were some nerves on my part, there were far fewer than I expected, and for the most part, I’d say it was an excellent lesson.  I could see progress, and he seemed happy and relieved that I could not only play, but that I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve (thanks mostly to Dr. ENFP and Mr. ENFP).  Mostly, what was shocking to me, is that I didn’t feel self conscious.   I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I have imposter’s syndrome, but I used to be really good.  I’m certainly not a bad player now, but I don’t put in the hours of rehearsal that I used to (yay for careers), and there’s a certain amount of agility that you lose as you get older.  Couple that with a decade of no playing, and you have what was once long ago a good horn player.  Or at least that’s how I see it.

What does all of this have to do with attendance policies?  Not too much.  But, Mr. ENFP got a position at a community college teaching music major’s level I theory and aural skills.  It was last minute, as the actual teacher had some sort of family issues come up, and so he’s actually starting it late.  Out of 5 students, two showed up, three for the actual theory class.  The first words out of my mouth were ‘attendance policy.’  In any case, all of his stress surrounding teaching major’s theory reminded me of my seriously lackluster college work ethic.  I have two DMA musicians supervising my practice, one who offers encouragement daily.  I hope to do better than I did when I was in college.  Obviously, I still have no desire to perform for a living, but I would like to be of performance quality.

So the lessons of Saturday – I need to use a metronome.  I already knew this, but it was enforced.  I’m not a bad player, so stop beating myself to pieces.  There is always more to learn.  I see him again later in February.

Oh, and completely unrelated to anything – Colgate wisp is awesome.   It gives you all the freshness of freshly brushed teeth right after lunch, without the hassle.  I highly recommend them.

Defying the American Standard for myself

Yesterday, I came across an article on the NY Times, that for the life of me I cannot find again, that talked about how millennials had these big dreams of a 3 bedroom house with a picket fence and 2.5 children, but how we aren’t actually doing that.  After getting into an argument on Facebook with someone clearly trying to poke the fire (I should have known better), it encouraged me to think about my own life.

My husband and I are lucky-ish.  Neither one of us have fantastic incomes (we get by fine), but as he comes from a wealthy family, he had a townhouse purchased for him upon college graduation.  We lived in the townhouse, mortgage free, for 5.5 years of marriage.  After the birth of our son, we took out a modest home equity line of credit, and had some updating done.  We then used the equity in our townhouse to finance a bridge loan, bought a house, sold the townhouse.  The equity in the townhouse was a fantastic down payment, so while having a mortgage was definitely an adjustment, it’s also definitely doable.  No picket fence, but it’s our own little square of land.

True to the American standard, we had planned on having two kids.  The original plan was having one and reevaluating, but we both knew we really did want two kids.  After trying for about 7 months, I got pregnant.  At 6 weeks on the dot, I began daily all day sickness that lasted well into my 20th week.  The list of foods that I couldn’t eat far exceeded the list of what I could actually digest.  My body was not excited at all about being pregnant.  I also had a bad taste in my mouth which lasted into the 16th week.  Everything tasted bad, in addition to being violently ejected frequently, and no amount of toothpaste could get rid of the taste.  It was hormonal, totally me, and my husband could neither smell nor taste a difference in me.

As I finally started to feel almost human, my ankles and feet severely swelled.  I retained fluid like it was nobody’s business, to the tune of 12 lbs of weight gain in a month, followed by another 20 in two weeks.  I had preeclampsia, big time.  I was put on bed rest, and just as I settled into a twice weekly doctor’s appointment, my blood pressure spiked.  I delivered my son, with an hour and a half notice, by emergency c-section at 25 weeks 1 day.  I spent a week in the hospital post surgery, as my blood pressure was impossible to regulate.  I will likely spend the rest of my life on some sort of blood pressure medication.

We got lucky.  My son spent 104 days in the Nicu, and two years later is a completely normal toddler, with two scars, one of which he examines daily.  He is literally one in a million.  25 weekers usually have all kinds of problems.  Plus he was a transport baby, and transporting these fragile neonates is almost a guarantee for brain bleeds.  Somehow, he made it through all of that, no brain bleeds, no abnormalities, no issues minus the standard that comes with preemies.

So, he’s two now.  My husband and I have decided that due to the complications I had, that attempting to have another child is a terrible idea.  I won’t put another baby through what our son went through, nor do I frankly want to do that again.  Plus, we got really lucky.  There’s no telling how things would go if we tested our luck again.  Adoption is ridiculously expensive.  Adoption is more than my husband and I make in a year combined, expensive.  So, our son will be an only child.  I’ve considered fostering, but I want him to be old enough to understand, and even then, my husband has to get on board, which he’s not yet. It’s seldom that I go a week without someone asking when we’re going to have more, or telling me that our son needs a little sister.  What’s shocking is these are people who were there.  They KNOW what we went through.

First, even the healthiest of babies is expensive.  Second, who’s going to take care of that child?  Not you?  You don’t get a say.  Third, having, or not having, a child is a deeply personal thought.  I will be the first to tell you that I desperately want a second child.  I so dearly miss that smell of newborn head, and the feeling of that tiny baby folding its body into you, maybe even some of the nighttime feedings, where it’s just you and the baby, without anything else but each other.  I’ve mostly forgotten the hell of pregnancy.  I know what happened, but I don’t remember what vomiting 5 times a day every day feels like anymore.  I remember the taste, but not what the taste tasted like.  I remember the fear.  I remember the fear deeply.  I remember the c-section being painful, but not what that pain actually felt like, and I know that I would have to have another one due to my classical incision.

My son will be an only child.  He will want for nothing, and be loved fiercely.  He will be encouraged to go out into the world and do great things, and will go to any college he wants.  I am not selfish, or a bad parent, or incomplete for only having one child.

Statistics are statistics, but just because you don’t follow them, in either direction (although I really wonder why anyone would want four or five kids) does not mean you’re less than.

Purpose driven life, maybe?

My dad has been battling lung cancer off and on for four years.  We have come to what we thought was the end several times now, only to have some new treatment be surprisingly effective.  I never understood what it meant to live with cancer until my dad.  My mom had endometrial cancer in 2010.  It was stage II (only because of it’s odd location close to the cervix), and involved a hysterectomy, some radiation, and checkups.  7 years later, she’s considered long since cured, and it’s something we rarely even think about.  My dad on the other hand, has gone to the oncologist weekly, with only a short period of monthly visits, for 4 years.  To have a continual relationship with your oncologist for so long is unusual.  Frankly, with cancer, you either go into remission because treatment works, or you die.  My dad has had cancer in some stage or another most of that four years.  Sometimes it’s getting bigger, sometimes it’s shrinking, but it’s almost always been there.  He’s literally lived with cancer for four years.

When we went to MD Anderson for the biopsy last month, they were specifically looking for the ALK gene mutation.  Three years ago they found it in the fluid drawn off of his lung during a thorocentesis, but the test that they used then can sometimes produce a false positive, and cancers change, so they wanted to confirm again.  In the meantime, he was started on Alectinib, which is a very new drug for non small cell lung cancer, which specifically targets tumors with the ALK gene, AKA my dad.   He’s been on the drug for a month, and in that month, he has gained approximately 20lbs. All of his doctors are ecstatic.  My first pause was the wonder of just how many calories the cancer consumes daily, as his eating habits hadn’t appeared to change.  In any case, we finally got the results back late yesterday afternoon, and he does indeed have the ALK gene mutation.  So in all likelihood, the drug is doing what it should be doing.  Admittedly, he’s coughing less, and seems to be just generally more alert.  While I don’t know exactly what we will see on the pet scan next month, I am cautiously hopeful that it will be good.

I remember several times throughout this journey that my dad has said that he didn’t think it was his time yet.  The last round gave him pause that he might be approaching his time, but he still wasn’t quite sure that this was it.  The power of the will to live is impressive by any standard, but my dad definitely has it in abundance.  When he was diagnosed, and survived, he took life very seriously, and began trying to impart all of the knowledge that he wanted to share with me as fast as he could.  As time has gone on, the things he thinks I need to know have dwindled.  He welcomed his grandson into the world, who had a very very precarious start.  He’s watched him grow and thrive, and become a toddler.  He’s established a relationship with him.  While I don’t know exactly what his purpose is, I can’t help but think that he has one, and that whatever it is that he’s supposed to do, he hasn’t done yet.

My dad is an interesting guy.  He’s a workaholic, but despite the general reputation of workaholics, I think that drive to go and do and work has been a lot of what has kept him going.  He dutifully goes to mass every week, no matter what, and gets very into the liturgical year, yet I would not consider him to be a very religious person.  He’s very in love with the actual going to church, but I think it’s more about seeing the people (he’s a very extroverted ENTJ), rather than the actual worship. He will do whatever needs to be done for his family, especially his only daughter, yours truly.  While a lot of people have father issues, really, my complaints are minimal.  He can have a bit of an explosive temper, but he explodes, and then moves on.  I would never consider him warm and cuddly, yet it is very obvious that he loves dearly.  He’s fiercely opinionated, and boldly liberal, but yet will listen to the thoughts of his counterparts.  I love my mom, but I have always wanted to be like my dad.

Cancer is an awful disease, no matter what the stage or type.  Unfortunately, so many cancers go undiagnosed until late, as the body is very good at maintaining a homeostatic atmosphere, until things are bad.  Lung cancer is generally a death sentence.  By the time you present symptoms, the cancer is usually advanced.  Most of the time, you cough, or have some difficulty breathing, but not so much as to cause real alarm.  Before he was diagnosed, I can remember my dad becoming winded easily as much as 5 months prior to diagnosis.  But, as he’s always been an asthmatic and allergy prone, nobody questioned it, at all.

I don’t know how things would be different had he been more proactive 5 months earlier.  Maybe he would be cancer free and just fine, or maybe he wouldn’t.  You can get stuck in the ‘coulda woulda shoulda’ loop easily, but really, you can only deal with what you’re handed, as it is handed to you.  What my dad’s purpose is we may never really know, but I firmly believe he’s got one, and he’s not done yet.