This is the way I try to focus as MRI's get closer... I know people want to me to go just by how I feel but I felt fine moments before seizures everytime and it was MRI's that gave us a clue. Many cancer patients feel fine before imaging and the simple truth there are some things that some times feelings are not the indicators of truth.
So to quell the nervousness... I try to focus on the positive. I've never had this rainy of a year in my almost 10 years of Austin and my lawn is in better shape so I capture a picture of my little girl and realize that the grass couldn't be any greener on any side of any fence. And she sits there and creates lions and giraffes and owls and monkeys out of toilet paper rolls and paper towel dispensers. I never had much of an artistic side (an elementary teacher once held up one of my assignments as an example of what not to do) but I sit here, trying to learn and absorb a girl who captures life better than any picture I've ever taken. She watches butterflies and snails with a care and wonder that I hope she never loses and that I dream, I hope I've contributed to in some way.
And I realize that the things some of my family originally thought were crazy like races, they are now doing on their own and sometimes on the same course as me. All of the cousins who had done the previous weekend of Spartans came back and did it again the second weekend and improved their time and failure rate (myself included). And I went back and finished with all of them this time taking less time to find them on the course. Others are talking about doing races on their own again or joining me again. I don't know who to be more proud of among them, Cefy who did it all on his own long before he realized I did it and did it with an injury. Sammy who has been weight lifting all his life and is now signing up for 5k's and spartans which push him harder and he's moderating his diet and workout techniques to correspond, or Omar who was much smarter than me. It took me over 3 decades to realize that, yes some races you should do on your own but the way you make some races special is to do it next to someone you love and in his son's first spartan they were a joint force that no obstacle would be enough for. I usually do the elite heat where we play for money and winner and all obstacles have to be done by themselves (sometimes figured out by yourself cause when you get there, there's no one else to watch in order to learn how it's done). And I'm competitive and I like it and realize that leaders in any field sometimes have to go a bit lonely to be innovators. They are extraordinary and should be commended as such but those of us who are just ordinary kids are glad to have some extra moments with each other.
And to head straight from the race to see my dad for his 70th birthday. It's not often that the three brothers are together but I was glad to have us there for a man who has been a force of nature for us, certainly for me or perhaps that would be better phrased as a man who has felt so natural to be part of the same family. He is not my biological father if we're arguing about genes but legally and more important at the heart of the matter, he is my dad. And like me, he grew up without a whole lot or too many birthday parties in Mexico and we had some very good serious conversations about many things including what he did with me, which was come into my life at a young age and then have a won with my mother which never have I perceived a difference in how much he loved and cared for each of us. But the man who gave me the Leon name we certainly had a good time cheering him hitting a Leon piñata. It's not often I head to west Texas but I went straight from the finish line to his party for a several hour drive thankful for a lifetime of support as well as him having joined me for his first 3 5k's at 69 years of age. Appropriately enough, the next time we're celebrating a birthday will be the only time I'll likely celebrate one in my 30's at my brother's house
Still as I rode home and had my iPhone shuffling through the many hundreds (thousands) of songs rather than a genre or a playlist, I took those moments to look back at that obviously since my wife left in the middle of cancer that there were some relationships I had not taken care of appropriately but also that I am closer now to many of my family members than I was before cancer. I don't know whether it's a mistake or a reveal when jobs, circumstances, cancer disrupt your relationships or a tell but I'm thankful for the ones that obviously moved the right way. A couple of people had shared some of their health issues so I looked back to my previous MRI were somehow life was kind enough to where right before those nervous moments someone came up to me unexpectedly and said "I'm a hugger" and hugged me right before the meeting with the machine and maybe the hug had enough strength to get me through two MRI's, guess we'll find out soon. But the song that got put on repeat a few times was the old hymn that came on, "It is well with my soul." I couldn't help but focus on the lined comparing life to weather. The previous race in Boston was cold, and windy and rainy; I thought of it like an ice bath and figured it had to be good for my joints. The Spartan races in Burnettt due to the rain were muddier than usual but it was warmer than the east coast so I figured the mud bath was good for my skin. But as I listened to an old hymn that my mom sang and hummed so much I took in the glorious weather and realized that no matter what had happened and no matter what had come... that well some part of my faith had become sight because it really all was well with my soul.
And I arrived home exactly as I had the previous time from west Texas to an Austin Runner's club run, a club that as of yesterday I am officially the president of. Home is where the heart is and leaving from races with cousins, to see my brothers and parents and grandparents and returning to the club I run with, well if home is where the heart is, seems like I was at home the entire time. I came home to work on logistics and I've actually been dealing with some medical billing issues from a couple of years ago that were incredibly frustrating but I went out and ran stairs to remind myself that if you do an intense enough workout, even if temporarily, at the top of those stairs you've put your problems beneath you.
So I go to parties where we fight brain cancer with a race as we kick off the Brainpower 5k. And I sit through questions that I didn't expect where a pastor wanted to ask some questions so he could share it in his sermon this Sunday... And as I get ready for my first honest 5k racing by myself (the ones with Kiana were more fun so far this year) with Voices Against Brain Cancer in New Jersey followed up being an advocate in DC for One Voice Against Cancer... Both more important on a massive scale but on a personal scale hopefully preceded by a stable MRI, a happy ending to Kiana's 2nd grade, and someone to hug that puts in perspective.
So the only thing that will roll back like a scroll is the medical room changing, I don't know what that MRI will put into sight but I have some faith that whatever my lot, I'll be greatful to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.