Monday, August 31, 2015

home for a rest

The days leading up to the babies' discharge from the NICU left me feeling happy, excited, nervous, and believe it or not, a little sad. As good as it was going to be to have everyone home, a part of me was going to miss visiting the NICU everyday. It had become a part of my daily routine, and to be honest, I think I was going to miss the company of the nurses the most. Our stay in Room 17 was quickly coming to an end as all the babies were right on schedule to be released. It was a bittersweet finale to our unforgettable triplet journey. 

The neonatologist in the NICU decided it would be a good idea to send the babies home one at a time. We were more than onboard with his decision, to say the least. The day we brought Vivian home was a day as normal as any other. It was a sunny Thursday afternoon, however, it would be our first night with an infant in the house since Jake had been born. Just like riding a bike, it's hard to forget how to care for a newborn baby, but there were still plenty of unknowns since we weren't exactly sure how she was going to adjust. 

During our drive home, I had only one thing on my mind: Jake. All I could think about was how he was going to react. Would he be standoffish, hide under the dining room table and poop on the floor like George (our dog) did when we brought him home? I was prepared for the worst but optimistically hoping for the best. 

As we pulled up to our house, we were greeted by my mom and Jake. We put the car seat up on the counter so Jake would be at eye level with Vivian with the help of his step stool. I frantically retrieved my phone as I could not pass up the opportunity to record his reaction. My eyes, once again, were welling up with tears and I could feel my lower lip beginning to quiver. My postpartum hormones were in full force and I was trying my hardest not to lose it. As we introduced him to his new baby sister, he curiously gazed at her, smiled, and waved hello. I don't think I have ever loved him more as I did at that very moment. 

Our first night with Vivian went really well, and we were getting ready to do it all over again the next day with Charlotte. We were really easing into things and adjusting well to our new God-given crazy life. I went to bed that night with a smile on my face, a beer in my hand and another 365 days older. Thirty-three was already off to a pretty damn good start. 

With two babies down and one to go, I anxiously awaited Monday morning since we would be picking Ryan up that afternoon. We survived the weekend with both girls, and they continued to stick to a four hour feeding schedule. Just like big brother Jake, they were good sleepers and were only up once in the night. It almost seemed too good to be true that things were going so well already despite the fact that we still had one more baby to bring home. This entire experience left me thinking how much these triplets were meant to be. I honestly couldn't have even imagined bringing only one baby home from the hospital. Our reality was triplets and our mindsets coincided. 

Our third and final trip to the hospital left us bidding farewell to the NICU and its staff. It almost didn't seem real that the whole charade was finally coming to an end, but nonetheless, we were looking forward to having everyone home. Bringing Ryan home felt more like a scene out of Groundhog Day. It was a brief glimpse into the repetitious and redundant days that were in store for us. From here in out, everything would be done times three.

That night within the walls of our modest, quaint little home was our first night home as a family of six. Three two-week-old infants and a 2.5 year old later and we were the proud (and semi-terrified) parents of four under three.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

life, in a nutshell: part V

The morning after my surgery was pretty brutal. Why anyone would ever, ever elect to have a c-section is beyond me. I had delivered Jake vaginally and even after a longer-than-average labor, shitting myself during delivery, and second-degree tearing, I would have done another beaver birth ten times over again in lieu of this. It wasn't good.

My incision was quite large and my pain level was about an 89/10. The burning sensation in my lower abdomen was so intense, it took my breath away. My lunch lady arms quivered every time I had to brace my then 200lb body frame to sit down on the toilet. To top it off, my boobs were slowly starting to resemble those of a porn star, and my body was looking more and more like Shrek from all the IV fluid. My cankles had cankles and my toes looked like Lil' Smokies. My stomach was tightly wrapped in a binder, but I just knew it looked like a deflated hot air balloon. I was a hot mess, to say the least.

I soon took up pill-popping, which is, luckily for me, encouraged after your lower abdomen experiences such a traumatic attack like the one I had just endured. One of the pain meds was administered intravenously and it was magical; not quite a bong toke, but more than a four or five drink buzz. It left me cloudy enough to relax me, but coherent enough to know what was going on. Despite my prescription cocktail haze, I had babies to visit.

We were pretty strict about visitors in the NICU, for obvious reasons, so we kept things at bay with immediate family. It was a look, but don't touch kind of a situation. It felt more like we were window shopping for jewelry at the mall than admiring the latest (and final) additions to our family. We'd stare into their incubators and watch them breathe and sleep. They were too peaceful to disrupt, not to mention the fact that they were so tiny, we were nervous to even touch them. 

The babies were all in stable condition and breathing room air. Our runt, Charlotte, was actually progressing the fastest. She fought the hardest in utero so it wasn't a surprise she was advancing so well in the outside world. Vivian had slight jaundice, but other than that, she was a champ, just like her sister. Ryan suffered from what the NICU referred to as "Wimpy White Boy Syndrome." Despite being the biggest at delivery, developmentally, he was a little behind. In the grand scheme of things, he was healthy and that's all we cared about.

By the end of the day one, I had mustered up enough courage to hold one of them. I cautiously picked up my sweet Vivian and held her naked, warm little body to my bare chest. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, but it surely was a feeling I will never forget. The next day, it was Ryan's turn and shortly thereafter, Charlotte. I still couldn't believe that I had three new beautiful, healthy babies to love on. Life had never been better.

By the time I was discharged from the hospital, I was slowly getting more and more comfortable with taking their temperatures, changing their diapers and holding them. Everyone was on a four hour feeding schedule and continued to make steady progress. I'd take turns holding everyone, pump, and even began nursing them. When they were about five days old, their day nurse let me hold everyone at the same time. I didn't know to laugh, cry or run so instead, I just stared. There in my lap, lay my three little pigs. I was in hog heaven.

For the next two weeks, the majority of my days would be spent with them at the hospital. My eight hour days in the NICU left me missing Jake, but I knew my time there was imperative as I had to familiarize myself with the ins and outs of the preemie world. What better way to accomplish this task than spending hours upon hours with the NICU nurses? I will never forget my long days with those nurses and will forever be indebted to them for their love and support they rendered during the babies' stay. 

A few days into their second week, we were given a general projection as to when they would likely be coming home, but they had to keep making progress before anything was official. Vivian was on par to come home first, followed by Charlotte. Ryan's sleep apnea issue would extend his stay just a few days longer. 

In just three short days, I'd be celebrating my 33rd birthday and the homecoming of two of our trio. They say bad things come in threes. Luckily for me, there's an exception to every rule.

Monday, August 24, 2015

life, in a nutshell: part IV

It was hard to wrap our heads around the fact that in exactly one week, we would not only be welcoming three more children, but we'd also be doubling the size of our family. I suppose it's one of those things you can't really imagine until it actually happens. Nonetheless, shit was starting to get real. 

On the morning of April 20, 2015, we woke up as if it was any other morning. We showered, got dressed and headed for the door. I hugged Jake like I have never hugged him before and assured him we'd be seeing him soon. It took everything in me to not break down in front of him. It was the last time I'd ever see him as our only child. He's been my heart, my soul, and my everything since the day he was born. How could I EVER share my love with another baby? Much less three, I thought. 

When we arrived at the hospital, I checked in and was taken to my room in the Birthing Center. Everything was happening so fast, I almost didn't have time to process it all. Before I knew it, everyone, including JR, was getting suited up and I was wheeled into the OR. There was, what seemed to be, a thousand people in the room all scrambling around like lab rats. It felt like we were behind the scenes of a movie set. People were everywhere. If it really takes a village to raise a child, apparently, it takes a colony to deliver triplets. 

Just as the anesthesiologist was about to administer my spinal, Mason sat right in front of me and instructed me to bear hug him and relax so the needle would go in smoothly. I happily obliged and moments later, I was immediately laid flat. I remember being uncharacteristically quiet and just looking around at all the commotion. The blue sheet went up and before I knew it, I was paralyzed from the chest down. JR entered the room looking like Dexter and joined me on my right side. 

There really wasn't much going through my mind with the exception of me panicking at the thought of JR passing out. I begged him to stay behind blue curtain because I just knew he'd be one of those guys to blackout and collapse at the sight of my insides being manhandled. To stay on the safe side, he handed off his phone to Mason's P.A. who assured him she'd get some good shots (and did she ever). Next thing I know, it was baby time. 

Baby A was about to make his grand entrance. At 10:05am, Ryan James made his debut at 4lbs 11oz and 18 inches long. The second I heard him cry I went into hysterics. They flashed him behind the sheet so I could see his face. Even through my blurred vision, I could tell that he was perfect. One minute later, Baby B, our sweet Charlotte Rae was born at 10:06am at 3lbs 8oz and 17 inches long. She was the tiniest bean I had ever seen, and man, did she have a set of lungs on her. Exactly one minute later, at 10:07am, identical twin sister, Vivian Elizabeth aka Baby C arrived. She was 4lbs 1oz and 16.5 inches long. She was even more beautiful than I had ever imagined. Thirty fingers and thirty toes later and I was a mom of four. 

As all three babies were taken into the OR next door to get cleaned up and evaluated, I was lying there in disbelief. HOW did I just give birth to THREE healthy babies? I felt like a goddamned clown car. After all it's been through, my uterus belongs in a museum. 

As Mason began to put my insides back and sew me up, the nurses brought each baby to my side, one at a time, so they could be properly identified. They looked like little Glow Worms in their hats and blankets. I immediately began sobbing, once again. After we formally designated who was who, they were taken to the NICU and I was soon wheeled back to my room for recovery.  

At this point, I was still pumped full of pain meds and was waiting for my spinal to wear off so JR could wheel me down to the NICU and we could formally see and meet our babies. I don't remember being overly anxious to see them, but I do remember it being so much different than when I had Jake. The second he came out, I pulled him onto my chest. This time around, I wasn't sure exactly when I'd be able to hold any one of them. I was OK with that just as long as I knew that they were all healthy. Their stability was far more important than my desire to hold them.

After about five hours, we headed down to the NICU. As JR wheeled me down the hallway, I could feel my eyes starting to well up again as we approached Room 17. At the very end of the hall, last door on the left, there they were. 

I didn't know who to go to first. It was quite possibly the most surreal moment of my life. I did my best to peer into each incubator as it wasn't easy for me to stand. I smiled and gazed at each of them, called them by name and told them I was their Mama. I'd never been so happy in my entire life. Until that moment, I had never even dreamed of what it would be like to have four children, but as we walked out of that room, I already couldn't imagine my life without them. 

Sometimes, our biggest blessings are the things we never realized we even wanted. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

life, in a nutshell: part III

Just days before Thanksgiving, I had my 'confirmation' ultrasound at the hospital. With three little turkeys cooking, it was time to find a high-risk doctor. This office was home to four perinatologists, one of which came highly recommended time and time again. He was often referred to as 'the best' and his reputation in the high-risk pregnancy world was nothing short of stellar. I had doubts that a doctor so well-known may not be accepting new patients, but as luck would have it, he was. I was to return to the office in two weeks for my first appointment with Dr. Brian Mason. 

Meeting a new doctor for the first time can sometimes be tricky. Not only would I be spending a lot of time in this office, but I was also putting myself and the lives of my three unborn babies in the hands of someone I had never met before. I was ABSOLUTELY seeking the best and was hoping Dr. Mason would live up to his reputation. 

The morning of my appointment, I had an ultrasound and shortly thereafter, I was taken to an exam room. I was soon greeted by Dr. Mason, his P.A. and two medical students. He greeted me with a firm handshake, a friendly smile, and an entourage. I greeted him with a, "How the fuck did this happen?!" He was funny, quick-witted, slightly scatterbrained, and a tad bit cocky.  He was everything I dreamed he would be. When he spoke, people listened and it didn't take long for me to realize that he was, in fact, some sort of high-risk wizard. The man knew his shit. I knew at that moment that this was going to be a match made in triplet pregnancy heaven. 

As I sat there on the exam table, he laid out the basics; the frequency of my appointments and ultrasounds, potential complications, and more or less, the projected timeline of events for the duration of my pregnancy. He was very matter-of-fact and made it well-known that the road I was on was going to be a tough one. He assured me that he wasn't God, but that he would do everything in his power to ensure the health and safety of our pending litter and me. The entire office quickly learned who I was by name and face as I was, at the time, their only patient pregnant with triplets. This office would soon become my home away from home.

As the weeks passed and my pregnancy progressed, we looked forward to finding out the genders. My suspicion of identical twin girls (Baby B and Baby C) and a boy (Baby A) was soon confirmed and we could not have been more excited. My husband always used to say, "I think it would be cool to have twins." He also always dreamed of having a little girl. Luckily for him, it was buy one, get two free in my uterus that day. 

Week to week, this pregnancy was already so different from my first. So much so, it was like being pregnant for the first time all over again. Once I hit about 20 weeks, my stomach began to grow at warp speed. Before I knew it, my belly was already measuring somewhere in the mid-30 week range. At this time, Dr. Mason and I agreed that now would be a good time for me to start my medical leave from work. My early wake up calls and daily routine were beginning to be too much for my body. From here on out, I was on house arrest.

I was really enjoying my time at home with Jake but as I steadily grew, so did my exhaustion and discomfort. I could no longer pick up Jake, give him a bath or lay with him at bedtime. Laundry, walking up and down stairs and cleaning began to feel like I was participating in a triathlon. I soon had to surrender to help and accept the fact that I couldn't physically do a lot of the things I once did. The well-being of these babies depended on my sedentary activity so I soon adopted a sloth-like lifestyle. My life had succumbed to seven to eight hours a day of laying down, eating lunch in my bed, and endless hours of TV. I was beginning to feel like a perfect candidate for TLC's 'My 600lb Life.' 

Throughout a triplet pregnancy, there are several milestone weeks that, ideally, you want to make it to without any complications. First one being 23.5 weeks, which is viability. Despite a major hiccup in my pregnancy, (TTTS aka twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome) all three babies made it to 29 weeks, then 30 weeks, then 32 weeks. An average triplet pregnancy lasts between 29 and 32 weeks. Anything past that is "luck," according to Mason. 

At this point, I had surpassed the norm and we were goin' for the gold. Mason had no doubt that I would be able to make it to 34 weeks. The thought made me want to cry, but I knew I had to just suck it up. My stomach was enormous and painful heavy. Some nights, when all the babies would shift, I swear to God my skin was going to split. Day in and day out, I kept telling myself that this wasn't about me; it never was. It was always all for them. 

Mason took off to the other side of the world for a 10 day vacation and returned just seven days before my 34th week. Upon his return, he got wind of the fact that one week prior, I had been transferred to the Birthing Center for contractions. It was then his P.A. called me to deliver the news that these babies were going to be born on April 20, 2015. Finally, our babies had a birthdate.

 I did it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

life, in a nutshell: part II

As we were leaving my doctor's office, I was instructed to make an appointment at the hospital for a second ultrasound to "confirm" the pregnancy. After seeing three babies, clear as day, on the monitor, I didn't need confirmation, I needed a drink. 

I bid farewell to my doctor's office once and for all since here on out I would have to start seeing a perinatologist as I was now considered a high-risk patient. As if being pregnant with one isn't nerve-wracking enough, three babies was going to take my neuroses to a whole new level. 

JR saw me to my car (we drove separate) and he headed off to work. With Jake in my backseat, we headed home. This news was just eating away at me. I HAD to tell someone. I needed someone else to distract me from my own thoughts. I needed to hear the voice of the one person in life who has always reminded me that everything was going to be OK, no matter what the circumstances. I needed to call my brother, David. The second I heard his voice, my voice began to quiver and my eyes, once again, started to well up. He knew I had my appointment that morning and judging by my tone and overall demeanor, I could tell he thought I was calling to deliver some unfortunate news. Little did he know it was the very, very, very opposite. 
"Uh oh. Is everything OK," he asked. 

"Oh yea, everything is fine!" I sarcastically replied. "I'M HAVING TRIPLETS!!" 


After a few more expletives on my end, he let out a high-pitched giggle in disbelief. "Not funny," I callously spoke. "What are we going to do?!??" After about ten minutes of some big brother reassurance, I had calmed down a bit and the reality of triplets was slowly starting to sink in. 

When we I got home, I didn't know what to do with myself. Jake wasn't much of a conversationalist back then so I decided to call my mom. This conversation was going to go one of two ways. She was either going to:

1. Panic and start crying or 
2. Be over-the-moon happy and start crying. 

Thank God it was the latter. She was happier than a pig in shit. The excitement in her voice was as though she had just been called down to the Contestant's Row on The Price is Right. I could just envision her running around her house, flailing her hands over her head while squealing with delight once we hung up. This has never been denied nor confirmed. 

With one parent down and two to go, it was time to tell my in-laws. Now, I need to preface this with, I love my in-laws. JR and I have been together for over nine years and recently celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary. His parents have never treated me like anything but their own daughter. I really lucked out in that department, and from what I can tell, the feeling is mutual. However, I have to admit, I was a little nervous to deliver our news to them. Moreover because I didn't want them to worry for us. I also didn't want them them to think that this was something we had CHOSEN. We were always on the two and done plan. The concept of multiples, much less spontaneous triplets, wasn't even a feasible thought. In our minds, we probably had better chances of becoming meth addicts than conceiving natural triplets. 

When JR got home from work, we headed to my in-laws. It was a weeknight and we pulled the ol,' 'Oh, we were in the neighborhood and decided to stop over' routine. It was a blatant lie. On the drive over, my stomach was in knots. I felt like we were back in high school getting ready to drop the bomb on my boyfriend's parents that he had knocked up his younger, underaged, freshman girlfriend. 

As the four of us sat there in their living room, my mother-in-law asked us how my appointment went. We both let out a nervous laugh to which she immediately questioned us with "What?!?" JR's 'I've got this' response still makes me laugh to this day. 

"There's three in there," he blurted out. Those choice words even took me a minute to process what the hell he was even talking about. I stuck my hand into my purse and handed off a wad of folded up ultrasound photos to my mother-in-law.

As they unfolded like an accordion, she gazed at them in excitement, confusion and disbelief. Once the dust settled, they assured us, "We're here for you if you need us. Anything at all." After the day we had just had, it was exactly what we needed to hear. 

When we got home and put Jake to bed, we decided to put a post on Facebook about the pending arrival of our litter. It was the fastest and easiest way to get the word out. The second I hit 'post,' the comments, texts, and phone calls began to flood in. It was overwhelming. So much so that I had to turn my phone off. I remember going to bed that night feeling surprisingly calm even though I had three babies in my belly. THREE! 

I have always been a believer that everything happens for a reason. Even though, at the time, it was hard to make sense of, I knew God had three perfectly good reasons as to why he was doubling the size of our family. As I laid there in bed that night, I couldn't help but thank him for not not splitting the other egg, too. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

life, in a nutshell: part I

When the time came for us to start expanding our family, we decided this time around we weren't going to find out the gender. We had already done the whole finding out, picking out a name, and customized nursery thing when we found out our first-born was going to be a boy. This time around, we wanted to be surprised (and holy hell, were we ever). Since we were "actively trying," we found out very early on that I was pregnant again. We were excited, of course, but it's very different when finding out you're expecting the second time around. More of a been-there-done-that, here we go again kind of thing, but nonetheless, we were thrilled. My nesting mode kicked in pretty early on and I gradually began to prepare the house for baby #2. Little did we know we'd soon find out that we'd be preparing for a litter instead.

In the beginning of pregnancy, depending on when you find out, there really aren't many physical changes. The dead giveaway to others was that I was no longer drinking. Hello, red flag. You can only avoid people for so long before things start to look suspicious and since I had no complications with my first pregnancy, we had no problem telling some of our close friends and family about baby number two's pending arrival. Right around seven or eight weeks, I started to experience the dreaded morning sickness. Morning sickness, in its truest form, is the spawn of Satan. It's debilitating and for a full-time working mom of a toddler, it made things that much worse. I'd like to kick whomever drummed up the term 'morning sickness' down a flight of stairs. In reality, mornings weren't always the worst part. I felt sick, all day long, for weeks. Dry-heaving on the way to work is no way to start your day off. Barfing at 4pm is no picnic, either. Even so, I chalked it up to different pregnancy, different symptoms. An instance of "this, too, shall pass." My pants, this time around, did get tighter a lot sooner, but again, I thought nothing of it since people always claim to grow/show sooner with a second pregnancy. I was actually secretly excited I got to slip into maternity pants so early on. Those full panel waistbands are what dreams are made of.

I wasn't scheduled to have my first ultrasound until the anatomy scan, which generally takes place between 18 and 20 weeks. At my 12-week checkup, we got to hear the baby's heartbeat and my midwife ordered an ultrasound because I was measuring bigger. No cause for alarm as this was a routine drill to make sure I was in fact as far along as I was measuring. I was actually super excited by this news since we'd be able to see our baby sooner than the anticipated anatomy scan. We were to return to my doctor's office the following week to see our 13-week bean on screen. 

The morning of the ultrasound I was anxious and excited. Even though this wasn't our first rodeo, all we wanted to hear was that our baby was safe and well. We decided to bring our then two-and-a-half-year-old son, Jake, with us in hopes that he'd potentially start to grasp the concept that he was going to be a big brother. In customary ultrasound fashion, I entered the room alone so the tech could obtain all the measurements and whatnot of the baby. As I lay there pantless, I began making small talk with the tech since silences can often make me want to laugh out loud. So, to prevent myself from looking like a mental patient, I asked to tech what the most number of babies she had ever seen on the screen was (the irony of this whole thing just kills me) and she proceeded to tell me "three" which led her into a few stories about delivering "the shock of a lifetime" to these unsuspecting expectant mothers. I then began to ramble about my friend from high school, Alesia, who had triplet boys just two months before Jake was born. Phrases like "I can't even imagine" and "I don't know she does it" rolled off my tongue as I further went on to refer to her as my hero. After our brief conversation, the tech went into the waiting area to bring in my husband, JR, and Jake. Unbeknownst to us, we were moments away from a bomb bigger than Hiroshima. 

Now, keep in mind, I never saw the screen and this chick had quite the poker face so I had ZERO idea what was about to go down. As JR came to my side, she turned the screen exposing two different screenshots. I saw an 'A' and a 'B.' I tilted my head to the side like a dog, and in confusion I asked, "Oh, twins?!" I glanced up at the tech for clarification and she slowly shook her head from side-to-side. I then looked at JR, and I mean, he didn't know what the hell was goin' on, but clearly, neither did I. She then went on to ask, "Remember what we were just talking about?" (as in all that triplet talk) "Baby C is over here," she said while flipping to a different screen and then verbally confirmed that I was, in fact, pregnant with triplets. 

"C?!? See what?!," I bellowed. This was the closest I have ever come to having a stroke. One look at JR and he was whiter than Elmer's Glue. We briefly lost sight of Jake but turns out he was only playing in the bathroom. Thank God. I immediately began sobbing, and let's be honest, they were not tears of joy. I exclaimed, "No, no, no! How did this happen?!? I'm not an infertility patient! How are we going to afford three more kids?! Our house isn't big enough for three more kids! HOW, DID, THIS, HAPPEN?!?!" Panic. Shear panic was setting in. What the fuck were we going to do and who in God's name conceives natural triplets anyway, I thought. 

After my vision returned to normal and JR picked up his lower jaw up off of the ground, the tech said, "Well, in case you were wondering, they all look good and they are all healthy." No words have ever calmed me down sooner. She then handed me what seemed to be 89 ultrasound pictures. Clear as day, there were our three babies: Baby A, Baby B and Baby C. The other half of our family was right before our eyes. We walked into that room as a family of three and walked out as a family of six. There was no better time to deliver our news to the world. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

seven years gone

apologize, in advance, for such a solemn first entry, but today, on this date, is a day I generally dread year and year again. You see, seven years ago today, I lost my dad to cancer. 

Seven. Years. I'm not sure what's harder to come to terms with. The fact that it has been seven years or the fact that I have to even mentally conjure such a notion. Speaking the words "my dad is no longer living" is what I imagine to be the equivalent of an alcoholic publicly declaring "I'm an alcoholic" for the first time in an AA meeting. It is something that is often excruciating to come to terms with but you know it will haunt you forever if you don't.

I remember the day he came over to tell me that he went to the doctor (finally) because he had been having some issues. Apparently, shitting blood is something you should really let go for an entire year. After a brutal few days of waiting for his test results, we received his diagnosis: Stage IV Colorectal Cancer. If you can remember one thing about cancer, Stage IV is generally not a good thing, but it isn't always the worst thing. He immediately began treatment, had surgery to remove the cancerous part of his bowel and was given a colostomy bag. 

Further and further into his treatment he began to slow down. He lost a lot of weight, buzzed his head and his happy, carefree disposition in life began to dwindle. He sold his boat and he required the assistance of my grandpa and uncle to help him with his heating and cooling business. I used to take him to chemo and sit there for hours with him. I'd do his grocery shopping and sometimes we'd just sit on the back step of his condo drinking vodka/cranberries while shootin' the shit. Our relationship had really transformed into something it had never been before. Something I think we both wished would have happened sooner in life but our bull-headed, painfully stubborn ways got in the way. 

After putting up a near four-year struggle, cancer won. That day plays over and over in my head like a broken record. As each year passes, it becomes more and more vivid than the year before. After he went into a coma, it was just a waiting game. All the words had been spoken and we waiting for him to exit. 

The emotions that stem from waiting for someone to die are the polar opposite of those feelings associated with the anticipation of the birth of a new life. Sky-high excitement vs rock bottom lows. The two most opposite feelings a human can ever experience. 

I remember sitting there in the room with him as his breathing became more and more labored, and in my head I was just screaming, "DIE! JUST FUCKING DIE ALREADY!" I just wanted it to be over. Like a Band-Aid, I knew it would sting at first, but that eventually I would heal on my own. Unfortunately, even seven years later, it's still a gaping wound.

The thing about death is that it is painfully permanent. It runs deep into your soul and can unexpectedly erupt at any given time. Grief is a bitch, and it never, ever goes away. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him. Some good, some bad, and some that will forever leave me wondering why he was taken so soon. 

When the day comes that I am finally brave enough to tell my children about their Grandpa Bill, I know that I can count on Lake St. Clair, Punch cigars and Fleetwood Mac to get me thru....