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My Son and I Exist: Lessons In Not Giving Up

A story about beating the odds, even when the doctors try to tell you something probably won’t happen.

Monday Night is trivia night for me.

There’s a quaint little restaurant about 15 minutes from my house that hosts it. A friend from my old job lives right down the block and invited me several years ago. I immediately fell in love. I’ve talked about how much of a trivia nerd I am. I’ve talked about how my biggest dream in life is to get on Jeopardy. 80% of the TV I watch is Trivia/Quiz shows, with the other 20% Sports/Cooking shows. Trivia, for me, is life.

The guy that runs it feels the same way. Every week is unique. Every round a different battle. Steve, the trivia guy, writes everything himself. Incredible breadth of knowledge. Insane categories. Plus, there was great food and it started at 930pm, late enough for me to get out of work at 9pm and still make it. On top of that, the reception is awful in that little area, meaning we are forced to act like normal people instead of screen-obsessed drones. It was perfect.

We started going in February of 2015.

Two weeks later, I had my work accident that left me disabled.

As painful as it is for me to get around, as hard as it is to drive, it is still the only reason I leave the house (apart from getting medicine).

Recently, the pain has made it much more difficult to get there. I miss about half the Mondays. I know that, within a few months, I will probably only make it once a month, if at all.

When that happens, I will figure out a way to facetime in with some kind of robot.

Because Monday Nights are trivia nights for me.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“While there are always going to be things we can try, the simple truth is that you may never have children.”

The words were hard to take. I mean, it’s not something you want to believe. When everything in your heart and soul tells you that you were meant to be a parent, and that you’ve found the right person to do that with, it’s not news that goes over easily.

Some people can get through it. For some people, it destroys everything.

In this case, it led to collapse.

He was a kid trying to get by. He was barely in his mid-20s. And he was already divorced.

He kept busy by working. It was what he knew. He dropped out of school when he was 12 after his two older brothers moved out and his alcoholic father’s disease finally took his life, leaving his mom and him to care for his 4 and 5 year old brothers.

He went on the occasional date, but nothing worked out. No one had a spark. No one really piqued his interest.

Eventually, after months of goading and desperation set in, he agreed to a blind date his friend set up. How bad could it be after all?

The answer: real bad. It was, easily, the worst date of his life. The two of them sat for almost two hours, mixing silence and awkward small talk. Finally, when there was no more food, both were relieved it was over. He just had to drop her off and they never had to meet again.

Then she made the polite accident that changed their lives.

“You want to come up for coffee?” she asked him, never more sure of an impending “no.”

“Yeah, ok.” He figured he had to drive 40 minutes to get home, it was late, and he was getting tired. Might as well.

She sat in disbelief for a minute but, eventually, they made their way upstairs. One cup of coffee turned into 5. Soon, the sun was up. If he didn’t have to get to work, he would have stayed longer.

“How did the worst date of all time end with me meeting my soulmate.”

She always wanted kids. But his last marriage had just fallen apart because he couldn’t do that. Love is love, though, and, as much as it hurt, she would rather be with him than without him.

They got married about a year and a half after that first blind date. Even though the doctors said they wouldn’t be able to have kids, they kept trying. They prayed and hoped and wished with everything they had. They kept on going, no matter how dire the odds, no matter what anyone else said, because it’s what they both knew they wanted in their hearts.

About one year later, I was born. Two years after that, my sister completed our incredibly unlikely family.

“While there are always going to be things we can try, the simple truth is that you may never have children.”

I couldn’t believe it. I mean, it feels like I heard this story before. I was born to be a dad. Every bit of me has been training and planning and hoping and praying for that opportunity most of my life. How could it even be possible? We were both healthy and young. It just didn’t make sense.

They had us try a whole bunch of different things, from medicine to exercise regimens. They told us what they’ve been telling people for decades – Unlikely doesn’t necessarily mean impossible. On top of that, modern technology like IVF, while prohibitivly expensive (think 20k with no guarantee of success), and alternate options like adoption meant that we could hold on to the dream the way my parents did.

Still, the familiarity of the story – the fact I shouldn’t even be here – never stopped resonating with me. If I put my entire heart and soul into hoping and praying this would happen, maybe we’d get lucky one day. Maybe.

It was Monday, June 15, 2015.

That meant it was trivia night.

“Are you sure it’s ok?”

“Oh yeah, I’ll be fine. I just don’t feel that great”

“Ok, love. Well, call if you need anything. I can be home as soon as you need”

I pulled up at 915, walked in, and sat down at the table with my friends. About ten minutes later,

I hear the bartender calling me.

“Hey, bathrobe! You got a phone call!”

Hmm. That’s weird. I know the reception is bad, but this has to be some kind of emergency. Even though I’ve sustained my injury at this point, I raced up to where their phone is.

“Hello?!”

“You need to come home. Now. My water broke.”

Nineteen hours later, on June 16, my son was born.

Happy Birthday, my boy. Thanks for inspiring me every day

I know it’s easy to get down when things don’t work out. When the odds are long and the fight seems impossible. I know that, taking loss after loss, even when you aren’t supposed to win in the first place, in anything from your job to DFS to much more important things, can be demoralizing.

But you can never give up hope.

You can never give up!

Never. Give. Up.

Nothing in this universe should even exist. And nothing fulfilling comes easy.

As long as you work hard, stay positive, and never give up, hope, success, and happiness will have no choice but to follow.

You can ask me or an amazing 4-year-old boy that started Pre-K this morning.

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