We've been working a lot on spelling these past few months. There are several yellow legal tablets strewn about the house that we have been pulling from to dictate our weekly "ch", "ng", "th" words. While grabbing a few blank pages from one of these notebooks, I came across this.
I will miss you.
The other pages in the notebook that had writing on them contained notes from a sci-fi writing for film and television class I took at UCLA in 2003. There are some of Jack's doodles. There are a few notes from when I took the LSAT in 2006, and our password for HBOgo. So here it is, a snapshot frozen in time. That's my handwriting. Who or what could I have possibly feared missing so much that it must have been documented.
I spent an afternoon marveling this. I imagined that sometime between 2003 and 2006 I had passed a note to a classmate, or a friend, or my wife. I thought about saying good-bye, and the finality that comes with it. I thought about missed opportunities for chance encounters and the emptiness that follows. I even thought about golf shots that hooked left and violated the beauty of perfection.
What could I have possibly missed so much?
Jack was diagnosed in 2009. My life changed. Marriage and parenthood proved that long before any diagnosis. I had to learn to put others first. I'm a pretty selfish guy, so this was a big learning curve. I've learned what it means to love a spouse. I've learned what unconditional love is to and from a child.
I have been doing little since Jack's diagnosis that doesn't put Jack first. I try my hardest to spread my love and attention to my wife and daughter and friends and family, but Jack still gets most of it. It puts myself pretty low on the list.
I'm not ashamed of this. I'm not some victim that "needs to take time for yourself". I take my breaks when I need them. It's a transcendence that makes you a better human being. A better member of community. A better parent. A better spouse. A better advocate.
In 2003, I wrote a note to myself.
I will miss you.
I am a different man now. I am a better man.
If I could say one thing to the man that feared missing himself, knowing where I am today, knowing my fulfillment, knowing my transcendence, knowing my joy, it would be this...
I will miss you, too.