The Large Man Chronicles
I’m 50. I’m in a reasonably secure financial place, by no means wealthy, but so very rich. I have a nice house, a dependable car, health insurance (for now), life insurance, and a job that I love. I have a wife, a daughter, and a son that are the kind of treasure that make rainbows jealous. It’s funny how I’ve worked so hard to have these things; but because I have them, I feel so weak and vulnerable. These were things I wished for. What the hell was I thinking?
I wish I didn’t have kids. I wish I didn’t have a wife that makes me laugh. I wish I didn’t have friends who love me. I really wish I didn’t like my job. These are all things that make you weak and vulnerable. If I didn’t have these things, I wouldn’t care about who I disappointed, and I could never truly be hurt.
When I was around 25, you couldn’t hurt me. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but it was absolutely true. I didn’t like my job…anyone that I was close to was young and healthy. Even my parents were young and healthy back then. All I had to worry about was Friday and Saturday night. Friday and Saturday had to worry about me too. I had nothing, so I had nothing to lose. This was a “limited risk” period in my life.
I should have kept things that way, but I guess we must have some organ or a gland somewhere in our anatomy that feeds on vulnerability and weakness…I think most of us seek these things out. I don’t know anybody who isn’t looking for love. Love makes you weak.
On the other hand, I guess if I didn’t have kids I would never know or understand the meaning of unconditional love, or the sadness of its absence. My nine-year old son knows that I am a flawed person, but that knowledge has no bearing on how he greets me on a Friday night when I return home from a business trip. This child doesn’t give a rat’s ass if I bring a t-shirt, a trinket, or a twenty dollar bill…or nothing. He’s just glad to see me. He’s like that with his friends too; he greets everyone with a handshake or a hug. What a sap! This kid loves everybody he meets. If the affection is not returned, he holds no ill will – he just moves on. I bought him a new bike last week, if I didn’t have kids I would never seen the joy in those eyes. Those eyes give me hope.
When I didn’t have kids, or a wife, I didn’t have to protect anyone. I didn’t have to nurse a fever, sweat a utility bill, pay a mortgage, or worry about taxes. When I didn’t have kids I had a lot of guitars. Guitars are cool. After I had kids, I had to sell most of my guitars to pay for shit that kids need…like milk, and heat. There is NOTHING cool about milk, or heat. That doesn’t even make sense.
I knew on my second date with my wife (despite a few detractors) that I was completely hosed. I think I even said to myself, “Oh shit…this is it…I’m completely hosed”. I remember the exact moment, and the exact place that this knowledge came to me. I became much weaker and more vulnerable as a person at that exact moment and place. But what are you gonna do? When you know, you know. 20 months later we were married…5 years after that I remember the exact moment and place where I made the decision that I wanted to have a kid. Weakness and vulnerability will always allow supplementation. Put that quote on a friggin Successories motivational poster. That shit’s real.
When I asked my girl to marry me, I made it very clear that children were not in our future. She thought that I was so amazingly hot and happening and desirable, that she wouldn’t need children to live a complete and fulfilling life. I only mention this to point out that despite what many people may think; she was, and sadly will probably always be “off the reservation” crazy about me.
5 years and a wedding later, we’re at a picnic/barbeque kinda get together, and two little angels named Rachael and Cassidy are sitting on the lawn in their cute little summer dresses playing with a ball, or patty – cake or some little girly activity that God pre-programs them to do so you can get through diaper changes. Both about a year old, both cuter than anything I have ever seen before, both “miracle babies” in different ways. Is there such a thing as baby that’s not a miracle? Anyway…I almost never met Cassidy,I think her presence was Divine intervention. She was a treasure found at the end of a rainbow. I saw those two angels and thought: I gotta get me one of those. The little Mrs. sees that look in me and that was it.
6 months and several 13 minute intervals of fun later I’m looking at a stick that has pee on it and a red +…and I realize that I had just become exponentially weaker. Love takes a different meaning when you look in the eyes of someone who loves you back, and that scares the shit out of me. I don’t care what anybody says. True love is a life sentence.
Because I was sitting in my car throwing change into a toll booth (exact time and place mentioned earlier) listening to a woman talk and laugh and share her life story without shame because she saw something in me that was good and trustworthy, I became vulnerable. I knew at that moment, that I didn’t want to think about daily life without her company.
Because I loved my wife, and I couldn’t deprive her from seeing her own flesh and blood playing “patty – cake” at a picnic, I became weaker. I became weaker because I wanted someone else to love. I wanted to see what it felt like to look at something the way my friend Tom looked at his kids. The way he looked at this little princess named Rachael was amazing. My friend Tom was a hard ass dude. His kids come along…think of the song Big Bad Bill is Sweet William now… My friend Tom is one of the most kind and caring people you will ever meet.
I wanted to feel what my friend Mary felt like when she picked up this angel named Cassidy. Cassidy was a surprise, and Mary was too young to raise children, and it was all such a controversy. It’s funny what a little time and a lot of love can do to a controversy.
My weak and vulnerable moments came when I wanted something that I didn’t have, or understand. After I gave in to those “wants” I became terrified beyond words. I wish I had known then, what I know now.
I wish I had known, how strong that weakness and vulnerability could make you. How seeing love, and receiving love, and giving love, makes your capacity for love grow. The more you give, the more you have. How it makes you think about how every person you’ve ever judged is someone’s son or daughter, father or mother. This weakness and vulnerability will actually make you stronger.
I am so glad I have kids. I am so happy that I have a wife. Love makes you strong.
A very close friend sent an email today asking for prayers for her dear friend who was just diagnosed with cancer…her pain dripped from the letters on my computer screen. Her sick buddy is a close family friend that helped her and her child through some difficult times. My friend’s note mentioned something about how life can be so unfair…this is true. The only reply I could muster was to hold on to hope, and that any good story starts with hope.
I hear the word cancer, or see it written, and I think of two friends – both miracles. One very recent and still a very fragile story of triumph. The other a kick ass tear jerker – FUCK YOU CANCER “I won’t quit” story of perseverance and unimaginable faith … and hope.
Of course these stories give all of us hope. For some of us, they help find a path to our God, because we see His work and His love. But because these are such close calls, it sure makes me wonder if it wouldn’t be better if I was that 25-year-old dude again. When I didn’t care so much about the people in my life I really didn’t need hope…faith either for that matter. AND, again…I couldn’t be hurt.
I have listened to too many stories of sickness and sadness over the last several months. I’m 50…most of my friends are in the 50 range so I guess these things should be expected, or at least not be unexpected. My buddy Dave and I were talking about this a few weeks ago, as another of our childhood friends had passed. During our chat he mentioned that in the past 5 or 6 years he has been to 1 wedding, and 5 funerals. That’s not a “feel good” ratio…frankly it sucks. It makes me wonder where I can find the hope or the humor that I love to write about.
But I only wonder for a little while.
There are always stories out there…really good tales of triumph like my friends Jerry, and Misty. There are amazing stories of love like Rachael’s, and Cassidy’s everywhere. Thanks to Rachael, and Cassidy I get to come home from a trip and get those welcome home hugs, and look into those eyes that give me hope. There’s where I find the hope.
I find hope in a little 9-year-old boy who loves everyone he meets, simply because he doesn’t know how not to.
And there is always a crazy broad somewhere that wants my kidneys or other vital organs, so you know…I’ll get my humor there.
Until next time, go tell someone you love them…
The Large Man