Before I even get into my rant about my life, I need to address the absolutely incredible responses I’ve gotten from friends and strangers alike on my last post. I cannot express how grateful I am to know that so many of you are reading, enjoying and being moved by what I’m writing.
I’m at a loss for words and most often in tears while I’m reading your replies. Knowing that so many of you are reading and subsequently reassessing your own lives to be more present or grateful of the moments is the best gift I could ever ask for and it just inspires me to continue writing and sharing my journey with you, so, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
A few days ago my brother asked me if I had a bucket list, my knee jerk response was “no of course not” but I didn’t really realize why until I thought about it over the next few days. A bucket list is for people who haven’t lived and I can say with 100 percent certainty that I have lived a wonderful life. I had a beautiful childhood growing up with my siblings where there was never a dull moment with the four of us. Family vacations to beautiful places, summers and winters at the cottage doing all the things a kid could want to do. I got to attend high school in Italy where I made friends and memories that are more special than I can even explain. Afterwards, I got to explore Europe by myself, driving around and learning about life. I’ve flown a plane, I’ve scuba dived with whale sharks, I’ve climbed a volcano, been to easter island, Antarctica and spent a month on a catamaran in the Caribbean. I spent an unforgettable year traveling the world with my wife. The list goes on and on but my point is that I have most certainly lived such a full and adventurous life that It’s hard for me to think about things that I would want to put on that bucket list that aren’t simply being able to spend more time with my wife and kids. My list would be being able to teach my kids how to drive standard, getting to go on family vacations with them, dressing up for halloween, watching them graduate and growing old. My bucket list isn’t comprised of things that I can do now(other than skydiving, that is one thing I haven’t done yet), it’s a list of all the reasons I have to keep living. So my brothers question about a bucket list made me realize that I’m not thinking about what else I want to do in my life as much as I’m thinking about how many more times i’ll get to do the things I love. How many more times will I get to ride my Dirtbike, drive my 65 or play on a beach. How many more times will I get to wake up and smile at Rachel, hear Riley laugh or comfort her when she’s hurt.
We’re having a baby in a few days and the news of this new life could not have come at a more tumultuous time in our lives. Rach said something to me the other day that is appropriate for right now and thats that her and I have thrived under stressful conditions because of how we love each other, how we communicate and how we look at the world. We found out about our new baby about a week before my dad passed away and then a month later I got my diagnosis. It’s been hard not to let my condition overshadow the light that is a new life coming into our lives and sometimes I feel guilty for not giving Rachel as much attention as I should be. Im sad that I may not be able to be as present for our new baby as I was for Riley. There have been so many things that I want to do for Rach and Riley while I have the energy but finding that balance between doing everything I want to be doing for myself and also doing everything I want to do for them has been difficult for me. Sometimes I’ll think of something I want to do for Rachel and then somehow a week will have gone by and I haven’t done it yet but I’ve taken my bike out every night instead. I’m so consumed with filling my days with the things that make me happy that I lose sight of the things I want to do to make Rachel and Riley happy. There are also so many things outside of my family life that need my attention as well, weather its putting my own affairs in order or dealing with my dads estate. There’s just so many things that get put on the back burner and I can’t help but feel guilty for putting myself first when I know how much more there Is to do. We all want more hours in the day and I’m no different. I want more hours to play my guitar, practice on the piano, drive my car and ride my bike. I want more time to spend with my family and friends, more time to read my book or look at the stars.
I’ve always been a night owl and Lately I’m finding that that part of me is thriving on account of my not wanting to miss a second of whatever time I have left, I realize it’s counterproductive and unsustainable and I end up sleeping in the next morning and losing those hours anyway. Yet being awake while everyone else is sleeping brings me a sense of calm, listening to Rachel breathing while she sleeps sounds creepy and weird but it always brings a smile to my face. Looking over to the monitor and seeing Riley sprawled out in her crib, so quiet, so peaceful, reminds me to take a breath and enjoy that moment. There’s something about being awake when the rest of the hemisphere is sleeping that just makes you feel a sense of indescribable oneness, you hear every creak and crack in your house, every bump or honk in the distance, all the nocturnal animals scurrying around and talking to each other in their screechy voices. There’s just something about it that I enjoy so much. In those quiet moments, my mind always seems to take me back to my earliest memories watching my small self run around and play on the grass at the cottage, I smile and cry thinking about how now I get to watch Riley on that same grass doing the exact same thing. My mind skips and jumps from one place to another always reminding me of how beautiful my life has been and how much more beauty there still is ahead of me. We’ve been spending more time at the cottage lately and Riley is always drawn to the dock to stare in awe at the waves moving in and out, to throw rock after countless rock into the water and watch it sink to the bottom. I help her navigate as she walks over the larger stones, always encouraging her to try it by herself but never hesitating to give her my hand when she says “dada help” with an outstretched hand of her own. I imagine my mum or dad having done the exact same thing with me 30 years ago and it makes me smile to think that I was once that small with parents standing over me, helping me, encouraging me and loving me the same way I love Riley.
Ive written all these posts and I haven’t really touched on how wonderful and strong Rachel has been through all of this. Since I got my diagnosis, she has done more than humanly possible to make me feel comforted, supported and heard. She does all this while pregnant and while also being an incredible and present mother to Riley. She does all this while also taking the time for herself, being open, honest and taking care of herself so she can take care of me, Riley and the baby to come. I was looking through my notes and came across something I had written for her on her birthday in 2013. It’s titled “ an ode to my love “ and I want to share it with you because it still rings as true as the day I wrote it.
An Ode To My Love
My love is always on my mind, in my thoughts and coursing through my veins. My love is perceptive, attentive and thoughtful beyond measure. This love of mine heightens with every passing second, grows more beautiful with every draw of breath and rise and fall of her chest. I couldn’t imagine life without my love. My love that gives me strength, purpose and encouragement to rise each day with a smile on my face, to put one foot in front of the other and to rest my head again each night with that same smile remaining. I silently thank my love everyday for having found me. I openly thank my love everyday for being an angel among mortals, for being who she is and showing me who I am. With so many types of love in this life I can only feel profound gratitude for having found this perfect love of mine. My love is my life, my sun and stars, my birds chirping in the wind through the trees and wolves howling at moon, everything that is beautiful in this world is everything that is beautiful about my love. Thus, when I hear a birds song, my love is there, when the wind caresses my face, it is the touch of my love, when the rain makes me smile and the moon reflects on the water my love is with me making life infinitely more beautiful.
Im so grateful for Rachel, for everything she does for me, Riley, Mowgli and our soon to be baby girl. Life would be dull without her and I owe her everything that I am and everything that I have.