Winning Acceptance

DSC07203A good sign that you’re not off to a good day: before breakfast is even over you’ve whacked your head repeatedly with a newspaper – several times. Quite hard.

If I was having a dialogue between two me’s, the rational me would say, “What you’d do that for?”

And the “all-nerves-and-do-we-really-have-to-go-through-this-shit?” me would’ve say, “Hey, it’s all I got.”

Because, really, what do you “got” when you discover at breakfast that your 6-year-old daughter has her fifth consecutive case of strep throat in 2-1/2 months?

You got frustration; you got flipping and flopping of schedules; you got a lot of tough decisions that lie ahead when you cross that threshold at which doctors start to utter the “surgery” word.

So, you start the acceptance process with a few swift whacks to the head with the morning’s Arizona Republic.

It’s a Monday paper, don’t worry, it can’t do that much damage.

*   *   *

Sometimes, I like to think the universe is deviant, or at the very least that it has a twisted sense of humor.

What better way to follow a day in which I claim a progressive epiphany than with one that starts with my daughter sick and ends with my wife and son groaning with fevers and vomiting in synchronicity.

For some reason, I can’t shake this audio clip out of my head from 1986’s “Labyrinth” in which Jennifer Connelly’s character tells David Bowie the labyrinth is a piece of cake. He responds, “Let’s see how you deal with this little slice” and sends some sort of gothic tri-blade, Muppet-powered tunnel cleaner after her.

She escapes via trap-ladder in the nick of time, of course.

There’s no fear here that we won’t escape. It’s just one of those many trials and tribulations of family life. Illness and attempting to balance the demands of career and commitment are always at play. Many times, in big bursts.

When it rains it pours; all things happen in threes; you get the idea.

*   *   *

So, tonight, it’s just me.

Wife and son have been asleep since 6 or so; waking only for “emergency” purposes. Brody is nestled snuggly in bed now, too, her first trip to the ear, nose and throat specialist pegged for 1 p.m. tomorrow.

What to do?

Based on much feedback – and thank you, by the way, to the many of you who offered your thoughts and advice today – we’re taking her to specialists that take a comprehensive approach, including looking into her allergies issues and post-nasal drip as a potential source of recurrent infection.

I think until we get some sort of feedback there, I can’t draw too many conclusions. What I do know is that stopping the cycle of antibiotic use is a top priority. Of that, I think there is universal agreement.

So, we’ll see what happens. I’m sure they’ll be more to come on that. But right now, it’s too early to say. No one in this family has had surgery, ever, so while it may seem minor to some people; the option seems like a large threshold to cross.

I have no poignant insights there; it’s like what lies beyond is fuzzy, unclear. Maybe that’s how it should be now.

*  *  *

After all that, though, today wasn’t really all that bad of a day.

A co-worker and I nailed a presentation pretty solidly – his work so spot-on it made me look like I knew what I was doing.

And I got to give my daughter flowers today – daisies – to apologize for her having to witness my uncontrolled reaction this morning.

“You’re not responsible,” I said, “for that, for what happened. I was just frustrated and upset for you that you keep feeling this way. But I wasn’t angry with you.”

She’s quite thoughtful; and she let that sink in before responding, sincerely, “That’s okay.”

And it is.

We are always, it seems, brought down by reminders of our mortality, our frailty, our limitations. We are constantly reminded we are not totally in control; that not every day, or week or month will go our way.

An older version of me would have wasted intense energy trying to fight these facts; to will things back the way I wanted them. And if that didn’t work, well, anger or one of the old vices would’ve sufficed.

But I’ve learned – and now put into practice – that it’s when we start saying, “that’s okay,” and continue moving regardless of these reminders and setbacks, that we start getting somewhere.

Somehow, that seems like a pretty large victory on a day that, on the surface, might have seemed to lack a win at all.


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