This was supposed to be my best weekend of the year. Every year at the beginning of March, Kenny, Andy, Johnny (and sometimes Jerry and Mark) and I go to Richmond for the Colonial Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament.
For the past ten years, I've had a season ticket with these guys for George Mason, our alma mater.
When we started having kids, and life got busier, GMU basketball was really my only "recreation," or thing that I had just for myself.
I love basketball season. I love the energy at the Patriot Center. I love seeing friends that I've been close to for twenty years, and making new friends each season. I love seeing the family that sits behind us each year--I think they had one or two kids when we started; now I think they have five.
And the highlight each year is the trip to Richmond, when we act like we're kids again--eating all the foods we normally avoid, drinking, acting silly, just enjoying being together and responsibility-free for a weekend.
Leaving GMU basketball and my friends was one of the hardest things about leaving Virginia, and I vowed I would still come back each March for the tournament, and the weekend with the guys.
Mom and Jerry gave me a plane ticket for Christmas, and I was all set to fly home for the tournament. Then the whole thing seemed to lose its importance when we found out Jamie had cancer.
So instead of flying to VA, I spent tournament weekend helping take care of my wife after her first chemotherapy treatment. (Although I did get to watch GMU play on the internet.)
There are times I feel pretty selfish--when I get down about missing the weekend. I know Jamie felt bad about me having to miss it--she even told me I could still go.
But as much as I wanted to be there, I also don't want to be anywhere but here; with Jamie and our kids, going through this together.
I still can't quite get my head around the fact that Jamie has cancer. It feels very surreal.
My emotions this weekend were all over the place--sympathy and concern for what Jamie is going through, determination to help her and stay on top of things around the house, longing to be with my friends in Richmond, anger at the randomness and evil methods of cancer, thankfulness in watching Jamie improve over the last few days, and as always, incredible joy playing with my boys, and having wonderful conversations with my daughter.
And a part of me did get to go to Richmond. You've heard of "Flat Stanley"? If not, he's a character made of paper that young students create and send out or take places--helping them learn about different places.
Kenny, who is so creative, made a "Flat Terry." (Terry is my nickname with the guys).
Flat Terry has my face on Will Thomas's (GMU, 2004-2008) body. The guys took him around to the typical Richmond places--Penny Lane, the Capitol Ale House, and the Richmond Coliseum.
They took pictures of Flat Terry and kept me updated on the weekend.
This is the busiest and most stressful life has ever been. Navigating the waters of Jamie's cancer, trying to be a better father and husband, staying on top of a job that I love but that pushes me every day--I've never felt so busy or so much pressure.
In the midst of life's challenges, I pause, and pray, and look ahead; and I believe that next year, we will have weathered this storm. Jamie will be healed and cancer free, we will be loving life in Washington, and I'll be in Richmond with the guys, cheering on the Patriots.
That. is. awesome.
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