It has been 3 weeks and 4 days in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit with my son, Max, fighting for his life. It is something he and I have trained for our entire lives. Him unknowingly, me knowingly. I have experienced his death and the emotions associated with it many times now. Each time like the first. Each time the words used to describe can only pretend to capture at best.
When your world is out of balance, you need your friends and relationships to help you cope. When you have your world turned upside down and at a screeching halt, your world becomes much smaller. Family becomes the small circle of care when time is so very very limited. You do a lot of deep thinking, both awake and asleep. For a very public story of a son who was struck hard by bacterial meningitis at 6 weeks of age, it is a very private life. Twelve and a half years later, I find certain things still hold true, . . .I renew my strength in silence. In solitude and in reflection. It is what you came in to the situation with that sustains you. Like being pulled under water, your only means of survival depends on the air you had in your lungs when you went down. How long you last depending on how much you have been able to store before going under. If you can keep a cool head, you can last even longer. It doesn’t matter how many boats your friends and family may have on the surface. You are underwater. It is now your struggle. When the struggle is over and you survive, you can climb in those boats, get dry, and start the quest to find home again. You’ll need them to help with that. These are the deep wells of strength that so often go unused, that so often get overlooked and forgotten about. But your success will be determined on what you brought with you and only what you brought with you. I find that I accept more when I go into any situation with this perspective. Call it emotional responsibility.
I AM this moment, forgoing many of life’s other worries and responsibilities. To do anything but seems so disrespectful, so dishonorable, so out of touch with the short lived gift of life.
In these times of hope and despair, both constantly winning battles, . . . I love the fact I can still fall asleep in the hospital, waking up and remembering the dream I just had of my son (who can not speak) talking to me. Starting to form words and surprising us out of the blue. To know these are the thoughts still winning in my subconscious through all this darkness, through all I have witnessed gives me pride. I have not given up. I am not too tired. I am ready to see him win again, as he has so many times before. You cannot stop fighting when you know he is.
There is no fitness here except that which you bring with you. Physical goes out the window, but adrenaline counters that perfectly. All you have is nutrition, sleep and what you came in with mentally. Mentally being the key. Your mental fitness. And like any significant life event that humans will be faced with eventually, you will be tested. And my job for the last 21 years has been taking care of others, service to others, . . . and yes, to provide workouts in the home, gym, hotel, bus, parks, etc, . . .but the real service is bringing out innerstrength in others. It is so very clear, We don’t live to train, we train to live. Because right now I am truly living. Truly in the moment. All I have to sustain me is my innerstrength. That which you bring with when you have nothing else. That is why you train. That was all I ever wanted to teach.
I hope everyone can be their moment when it's upon them. Whether that may be mile 12 of a race, dealing with physical pain or keeping pace. . . or some devastating news or event you must act upon, . . . Remember that exhaustion always foreshadows euphoria or peace. Sometimes both. If you are proud of your performance in the fight, you will never regret the experience it brought you. Remember you always have more to bring to the table. Remember that you are InnerStrength.
I AM a father
I AM sacrifice
I AM anxiety
I AM duty
I AM fighting
I AM this moment
I AM InnerStrength. And I AM not alone.