Face to Face

Me, Heidi, Beckett, Brody, Blythe, Mom and Dad - Little Wolf Pond, New York - July 2011

There have been so many instances in the past few months that I’ve wanted to get back to this blog; so many things I’ve wanted to share; so many positive developments in my life and in my family’s life that I’ve wanted to make you all aware of.

So, of course, it’s after the toughest week in several months that I return to the keyboard. This week has been the kind that runs you through the ringer, forcing you to make decisions you dread – decisions that will place people you care about in troubling and uncomfortable situations. The kind that makes you split in half; there is citizen Ed, lover of life and general wisher of well-being upon all. And there is business Ed – calculated and operating on behalf of the organization.

I despise neither; I’ve chosen these divergent paths consciously. I’ve grown to love or, at least, accept, myself for all my complexities. But it’s hard to detach the emotion from the decisions we must make. And, as anybody whose been through it knows, a week that exposes you to powerful anger and sadness and, yes, at times, happiness, can be very taxing on the mind, and the body.

A prime example: There’s a good chance I’ll be the worst performer in my Crossfit class for the final workout of the week. That never happens.

But perhaps what you might not know; or at least not expect; is that I’m not really dwelling on it either. I’ve not asked “Why me?” I’ve not been lost in a depressed funk. I’m not miserable. I’m processing what I’ve faced this week; the choices I’ve had to make and I’m placing them in their proper context.

Nobody has died. Nobody has lost their health. Nobody has suffered serious injury. They are not going to jail. They’ve not had their reputation stripped from them.

Perspective, you see, is something I’ve gained a lot of since Beckett’s illness. (And, by the way, his continued complete 100 percent recovery).

Something changes; something very, very, very deep changes when you stare death in the face. When you really believe at your core that death is coming for your child, when you look at it, acknowledge it, fear it and feel it, nothing is quite the same. Because, honestly, there’s not much else that can be worse than that.

Every other difficult decision; every other difficult choice you face with that as the context, well, honestly, it really doesn’t seem that hard.


So what has happened?

I’ve found peace.  Yeah. Really, really found peace.

Sometime in late March or early April, after Beckett had been discharged from the hospital; after we had been home for a few weeks, Heidi and I and the kids went to a fundraiser for the elementary school.

Lucky for our elementary school, it – and we – live within walking distance of the largest university in the United States – Arizona State University. That means lots of professors, artists, theater folk, writers, engineers, creative people.

The annual silent auction at Beckett’s elementary school is no joke – from high-concept to green art (think bracelets made out of recycled bicycle tubes), it’s all there.

Buried somewhere among the mass of silent auction goodies was a month of personal training from trainer Oscar Garcia.

I’d never heard of Garcia; had no idea what he was about, or what he did.

But during Beckett’s 4 weeks in the hospital, I’d maintained the eating habits of an Ironman in full training and paired it with the habits of a mourning father trapped, sitting, in a hospital room 20+ hours a day.

I’d gone from 195 to 215. I was sick, mentally, physically, emotionally.

So when I saw the trainer session, I bid.

I bid $40 with 10 minutes to go.

And then I guarded that shit like a hawk.

I’d found my path to salvation.

No one was gonna take it.


It stayed that way, literally, to the end.

No one had bid. “3 minutes” the auctioneer called off.


My $40 bid still stood.

“1 minute to go,” the speaker proclaimed in the auditorium.

Good to go. Still no bid.

“Time’s up!” the auctioneer yelled.

It was mine.

And then, some old bag who had been standing there the whole time stepped in. She started to write in a higher bid, after the clock expired.

“No, no, no, ma’am,” I yelled. “Time’s  up.”

She scoffed, and walked away.

It was the best interference I’ve ever thrown.


I’d had no idea what Crossfit was when I signed up.

In essence, it’s a combination of aerobic activity and weight-lifting. That’s all combined with a diet that emphasizes real food. Veggies, fruit, meat: Yay! If it’s processed or comes in a box – yuck-0!

In the five months since I’ve won that bid, my body has become the leanest its been since freshman year of college. My energy level is explosive – moreso than it was during the peak of my Ironman training.

And most importantly, my mental health has been restored.

I often tell people these last couple months that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.


The workouts, the training program, certainly play a large role in that.

But a lot of it has to do with what we’ve been through.

This past year has been the most substantial period of growth in my life.

I can see that now; six months from Beckett’s illness.

I’ve been given a gift; a chance to look at life for what it is: a chance to put all the nonsense in perspective; and see what is that we strive for that matters; and what it is that we desire that is false.

The things we need are simple; the things we crave to be happy even more so.

We need shelter and food and health.

We need those we love.

We crave to understand, deeply and without distraction, that we need what we need; and not much else.

1 comment on “Face to Face

  1. Wendy Bernacki

    Explosively profound and inspiring, your victory is motivating and beautifully impowering for me in this season of what feels to be a ‘stall’…it is all about simplistic joy.

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