Humankind tends to be very good at hiding and disguising things that we find unattractive.  Putting on airs, excessive use of makeup, fake smiles and laughter, kind but empty words when saying nothing would make more sense…  All examples of trying to triage the unseemly to seem acceptable.  In my case, it’s smiling or making a funny comment to try and cover up the pain and struggle within.  I even try to fool myself sometimes…

One thing I have discovered over the past year and a half is just how easy it is to puncture the facade.  We’ve all heard it said, “you can fool everyone else, but you can’t fool yourself.”  Oh how true that is.  Last year, I started taking these little two-day getaways, trying to give myself a chance to breathe and engage in “self care.”  With the painful connections between hockey and the loss of my son, I turned to my original sports love: the Chicago Cubs.  Last year, including an impromptu trip for Game 4 of the World Series, I made four trips to Wrigley Field, three solo and one with Avi.  So far this year, I’ve taken two to Chicago and one to Denver.  All quick trips–one nighter to Chicago for Opening Night, one nighter to Denver to meet up with one of my closest friends for a Cubs-Rockies game, and now the current basically one night trip.

Each trip has had its peaks–checking in with my friend David and hearing/watching him perform, spending a little time with my brother, hanging out with my friend Pete.  Unfortunately, each trip has also had its valleys.  One thing has dogged all three trips: Mother Nature.  Opening Night at Wrigley Field was one of the coldest nights the the ballpark that I’ve ever encountered.  Windchill must have been around 30.  The start of the game was delayed over two hours by rain.  The Cubs won, but not until the following morning.  The Denver trip looked unlucky from the start– the initial forecast was bad enough that they did not expect the game to be played.  However, the rain let up after an extra 45 minutes, and the Cubs played.  A chilly, damp day–not Denver at its finest–but that trip was more about seeing Pete than the Cubs.  (Cubs lost 3-0, being no-hit into the latter innings.). This weekend’s games–one played in the rain and a windchill under 35 degrees, and the second postponed two hours prior to gametime, only to have the rain stop before the game was supposed to begin and remain stopped more than long enough for the game to have been played.

Is it a sign?  It kind of starts to feel that way.  Maybe Micah is telling me that I’ve spent enough time trying to run from my emotions, from my pain.  Every time these trips start to go south, the pain is there–raw as ever.  Whether it’s the disappointment of a fun experience turning cold and miserable or seeing things that remind me of Micah.  Right now, I’m sitting at the gate waiting for my significantly delayed flight, watching a mother trying to deal with two children that have serious mental illness.  One, a young girl, maybe ten or eleven years old, that appears to have pretty severe autistic traits, and the second, a younger four or five year old, that appears even more severe, appearing unable to verbally communicate with her mother, fidgeting and hitting herself on the leg and foot.  Micah was never that severe, obviously, but we certainly had our trial and tribulations with Micah’s severe ADHD and mood disorder, especially when he was 3-4-5-6 years old, and then his partially ADHD-triggered depression in his last year or so.  My heart goes out to the mother, but at the same time, I can’t help but wish that I was still dealing with those issues instead of writing this blog entry.

On the shuttle from the airport to the car rental desk earlier, I spied a pair of taped goalie sticks sitting next to a goalie bag.  The young man that grabbed the bag and sticks when the shuttle stopped looked to be not much more than Micah’s age.  As anxiety-ridden as some of those hockey trips were, how much I miss that one-on-one time with my son.  This afternoon, my brother and I went to lunch at a restaurant that was in a very familiar location.  Why was it familiar?  Hockey trip with Micah.  Suddenly reminders everywhere…

I can no longer run away and hide.  Every time I do, I feel like I am conceding defeat.  Maybe our upcoming move, away from the room where Micah ended his life–maybe that will help.  Maybe settling into a new routine once we’ve moved…

The struggles will continue.  I will continue to face and battle whatever gets in my way.  I will still take one more trip to Chicago in June–though more for a reunion of a number of friends from high school theatre.  I will focus on the positives…

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