Unconditional Love

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I am not the type of guy who likes to express my emotions when it comes to sadness. However, I am hoping that writing this will help provide some relief as I sit here in pain. Today I had that moment that everybody fears. The phone call from your dad while you are at work. It is rarely a good sign, especially under the current circumstances.

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To provide a bit of a back story, Copper was diagnosed with cancer in early January. Over the past few months it has been a struggle getting him to eat. I can’t imagine how hard it was on my mom seeing it every day. I really do ask that you keep her in your thoughts and prayers. This morning all of the kids got a text from mom saying they were taking Copper to the vet because he fell down the stairs. I was nervous, but to be honest I wasn’t very worried. Then about 2 hours later I got a call from dad and I fell apart before answering. I knew something was wrong, and I didn’t want to answer. It can’t be bad if I never hear about it.

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Dad tried his hardest to explain the situation as we both spent all our energy trying to hold it together on the phone. We failed. Copper had been fighting so hard for 3 months, and it had finally hit that point. This morning they had to put Copper to sleep. Eight years wasn’t enough. I don’t think I have ever felt so broken and sad in my life. I hung up and headed to the bathroom and by the grace of God nobody was in there to see me. I went into a stall and wept like a child for probably 15 minutes.

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I am not trying to turn this into something about me, but situations like this are why I have always been skeptical of relationships. I don’t fear the relationship itself. I fear this pain and sadness. The toll it takes on me investing myself in someone not knowing if they will invest the same. Giving so much of myself to someone only to have it taken away.

So now I try my best to keep people at arms length. By no means am I saying I should live like that, but I feel like I should be open about myself during this time. I try to put on a mask that I am strong and cold, but in reality I am driven by emotions and weak. I hide behind humor because I don’t want people to see who I am. Scared that I will be viewed differently or taken advantage of.

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As I type this I am having one of those good cries. The ones where snot is everywhere, you make weird noises, and you can barely see. The crying that will ruin the shirt and pants you are wearing. Copper really gave his all for us, and never expected anything in return. I wish I could have been there for him to help ease his pain. Sure he was just a dog, but he was so much more than that to me and my family. He was my brother. I don’t know of anybody who was ever as happy to see me as him.  Even towards the end he would try his best to act like everything was ok. I feel so bad thinking that he was the one trying to lift my spirits. How selfish of me, but how selfless of him. Him knowing and feeling so much pain, but putting this aside because I might be having a bad day. You the real MVP.

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I will really miss him, and I do not look forward to the first time I go to my parents without him there. I don’t want to see an empty front door. I want to worry about him stealing my napkin from the dinner table. I want my pants to have dog hair all over them. I want to walk inside wearing clean clothes only to have them destroyed by slobber. It feels dumb asking for your prayers since I don’t like asking for help. But please keep me in your thoughts, along with the rest of my family. Sure Copper was a hassle sometimes, but that was only because he was still a child at heart.

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It is going to take me awhile to get back to normal from this. I am devastated. I love you Copper and I thank you for 8 great years. You will be missed.

 

Down but Not out

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It would probably be an understatement if I said I can’t wait for 2016 to end. I know that I shouldn’t start this post off with some negativity, but sometimes you have to speak your mind. This year certainly had some great days, so maybe I have just focused too much on the negative side.  I have never put much emphasis on New Years, and to be honest I plan on being in bed by midnight anyways. So I don’t have these expectations of it being a “new year, new me” on Jan 1. But I do plan on making changes, with the big one being a new job that I start at next week. The majority of my frustration was due to work, so I have hopes that this new company will be the answer. All I know is I lived a bit of a cruise control life for the past few years which made me realize that if I want changes I will have to make them myself.

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I will say that life has been a huge motivator for my cycling/swimming/running. I have hit PRs for all 3 over the past few months. I typically ride Percy Warner a few times a week during the summer and thought I had hit my lap time peak in 2015. It took a few months of suffering, but I finally hit that milestone in June and was able to improve on that two more times.  Starting to sound like an analyst (it is my job after all) but I increased my miles on the bike by 67% this year.

The hills of Percy Warner are alive to sound of me riding in pain

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The plan is to start riding in the crit races in 2017 or try a sprint Triathlon (maybe both?). I used to think that competition would ruin riding for me, but now I look at it as a challenge and a way to push me. I felt like I hit the limits of what I could personally push myself to this year, and I know riding with others will allow me to go to that level I think isn’t possible.

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I also was able to spend a weekend with my second family. My parents and I went to go see our good family friends, the family that I lived with during my internship in Columbus, OH. They now live outside of Charlotte on the lake, and it was one of the best trips I have had in years. Their wine cellar had nothing to do with this……

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Lake, wine, and dogs. Where do I sign up?

Plus who wouldn’t have fun getting to hang out with these kids?

One of the highlights of my year was volunteering for another Ride for Reading delivery. Typically I do a few of these a year, but due to work I was only able to help with one. It is always an eye opening experience into how blessed I am. It is heartbreaking knowing that many of these kids do not have the same childhood that I had, but it also great seeing the excitement on their faces when they get to pick out some books.

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I surprisingly was in no mood for the holiday season. Typically I jam Christmas music non-stop and can’t wait. This year was different, but that didn’t stop me from grabbing my camera to take some pics. If there is one constant in my life, it is the joy that taking pictures gives me. It is my backup to cycling, and regretfully cycling doesn’t happen often in the winter. Cue camera.

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The holidays started out spending time with some family friends. Each year we meet up to play some games and do dirty santa. As you can tell from above, Alex and I came away looking good with 2 bottles of wine and the TN wine stopper.

I typically don’t play the game, as I would much rather take pictures or watch everyone slowly turn against one another as the games roll on.

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A week or so before Christmas we were able to see some of our cousins. It was an eye opening experience to what having 4 kids would be like. If I am honest it didn’t sell me on the idea haha. But it was fun getting to play with them for the afternoon. I am biased, and I only say this to build myself up, but I am pretty sure I was Hudson’s favorite.

As for Christmas shopping, outside of a few presents, most was spent going to Kroger to buy gift cards. I didn’t put much effort into the shopping this year, which sucks because I HATE giving gift cards. They feel like such a cop out. The weather was a bit unforgiving for a few days, so I decided to finally hook the bicycle trainer up to continue the love/hate relationship I have with it. When I think of misery, I picture riding my bike on a trainer.

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That afternoon everybody went to my parent’s house to watch the Titans continue along the path of mediocrity, followed by one of the best meals I have had in awhile. Dad grilled out some steaks, and then we had some of my favorite wine to go along with it.

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How could anyone not enjoy a night at a place like this?

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Then a few nights ago I felt like giving the car some attention. As some of you may know, I have put lights on my roof rack for years. It has lost some appeal since the car isn’t modded like my first one, but I still enjoy seeing the laughs it gives me on the road.

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I wish you all a Happy New Year, and I thank you for checking out my blog. Maybe one day I will update this more than twice a year. (Probably not though)