Sunday, September 22, 2013

Darkness Before Dawn

In 2000 my uncle Dave died of cancer. He was 33. From that I had a real fear of turning 33 myself.

Dateline September 2012: A shot of severe chest pain at 3 am, a few nights before my 33rd. I thought it was a coronary. I had always known this, hadn’t I? This was where the wagon would derail. But it was only my first experience with heartburn. Read more: I survived that night, turned 33, and the first six months of said year were great. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was silly for living in fear of a number, an age, a time. We were ready to start a family, a life. It was my time to shine. Then it all went the other way.

Once I read about a religion/belief system that said we chart out our lives before we live them, and as we exist, we know where the road is going. That’s what deja vous is, this religion argues. We haven’t been there before; we’re going there in the future. Somewhere deep in our being, we know our destiny, because we planned it out, pre-birth. I don’t know if that’s true. But something always told me 33 would be a bad one. I had no idea how right I was.

The feared slide of 33 started Easter Sunday. My wife found something (seemingly benign) on her body, and two weeks later, received the most-dreaded diagnosis a woman could hear. Read more: The world went instantly dark. Plans to make a family: Done. It was a stunning turn of events. I thought we'd be special, world killers, now it was trying to stay alive, intact. We forged ahead, fought, took hold of the horrible situation, just in time to find out our dog, Sophie, had been diagnosed with cancer: Mast-cell tumor. She had to undergo surgery and was quickly declared cancer free: Read more: That's when we started praying nightly.

People talk all the time about the power of positive thought. Maybe it’s the same way with negative thought. Maybe because I had always feared 33 with such vigor, I created the horror that came halfway through. Maybe all this disaster was my fault.

Then the real nightmare started. I was sitting outside the Rensselaer Train Station, there to pick up my wife, coming back from treatment, when my sister called to tell me that my oldest friend, Chris Premo, had been in an accident, and it’s “bad.” The next five days: Hell itself, ending with Chris’s shocking death on July 29th. Read more: I was 33. The ship was sinking. No end in sight. What could happen next?

Funny you should ask. My aunt’s fiancĂ© was diagnosed with cancer, and I was diagnosed with bradycardia. It’s been nonstop, never ending this year. And I didn’t even mention the death of James Gandolfini. Read more: As I write this, the Giants are working on 0&3. When I was 33. It was NOT a very good year.

Everything happens for a reason, I believe that. Maybe I can’t read the writing on the wall right now, but someday I’ll understand why this avalanche of sadness rolled over my life at this time. I will recognize how it was a gateway to good. That’s my mentality as I move towards 34.

Yesterday I was mowing the lawn. I went past the house, turned around, and started back towards the front door once more. I love mowing the lawn, seeing the tall grass cut down, the property made clean, one blade at a time. When you start the lawn, the yard’s an unkempt mess, out of control perhaps, and when you finish, it looks great. As I pushed the machine towards the front door, I saw my wife sitting on the stair, watching me. In the window behind her, all three dogs sat, looking out, tails wagging. She smiled, waved. I smiled, waved back. And that’s when I knew everything would be all right. We’re alive, and as long as we're alive, there's hope. Read more:

Brian Huba

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