Categories
Family

One Year Later

In March 2019 when the original tumor was removed from Josh’s brain, I naively thought that he would be healthy again after a few weeks of recovery and some physical therapy. I thought that the brain tumor was just a bump on the road, and that we would continue on with life once it was gone. What I didn’t understand at the time, but would soon realize, is that we were on an entirely different path filled with tough choices, hardships, and sorrow. Or, that Josh would carry the heaviest weight as he was faced with several hard truths and asked to make unimaginable choices.

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Although we were grateful for the successful removal of the entire tumor, this was still only the beginning of Josh’s road to recovery. When he was transferred to Mary Free Bed, he had paralysis on the right side, and couldn’t speak. Simple things that we take for granted, like being able to spit, were challenges for him.

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At the same time, Josh was about to do something incredible. He was once a teen who needed to be reminded to take out the garbage, or woken up for school in the morning, but once he started rehabilitation, he gave everything he had as he worked hard to gain back the abilities he had lost. He persevered during the remaining three years with kindness and a sense of humor.

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There was a point during his rehabilitation where he was undergoing physical therapy, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy at the same time. There were some rough days, but he was able to do it all.

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Josh had improved so much by the fall of 2021, that I was beginning to feel like we were finally coming “out of the woods” and that he was about to have a long future. He would ask questions about what would happen after graduation, and I would explain that he would continue his classes, but I wasn’t sure what that would look like. We helped him purchase a one-handed keyboard as a part of his Make A Wish request, and I thought this would be something he might use later in life as a part of a job.

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I’m grateful for the privilege to be Josh’s father, and to stand beside him as he courageously regained his ability to walk and talk during his fight with cancer. He was a wonderful young man, kind hearted, a strong big brother to Elijah, and a good little brother to Kayla.

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I’ve missed him every day since he passed away. There are a lot of things that I would have wanted to share with him.

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Most recently, Elijah and I played a joke on my wife for April Fools Day. The day before, I bought four packages of googly eyes, and hid them around the house. This was in homage to a trick Josh played on his Grandma Morgan a few years ago after he found a package of googly eyes that she had at her house. He hid them so well that it took several weeks for my mom to find them all. She still complains about it.

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This was the kind of thing that Josh would have appreciated helping me with, both because it would be funny and because it would have been an opportunity to show off his height. But, he would have initially groaned and rolled his eyes before going along with the idea.

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Maybe the best thing we can do in Josh’s absence is to live life the way that he would have if he had been given more time. Appreciate every day, show kindness to others, persevere through tough challenges, and take every opportunity to laugh. Especially if it involves googly eyes.

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Categories
experience

Strange Dreams

I have been having strange, recurring dreams in which I’ve moved into a large Victorian style house. In past dreams, I would venture into different rooms of the house, but there are certain areas that I don’t enter because I somehow know that they are haunted. I think that I had a dream about living in the same house last night, but in it I was mourning Josh’s death as I was going through some of his things that were stored in his room. But, I knew that I wasn’t in our current house, because his room was different, as if it was in an upstairs attic. There was an older analog TV on a stand there. Elijah was there, and I told him that we could replace it with a newer TV. But, we were also in a hurry because Theresa was waiting for us to come downstairs so we could go out to eat.

The room we were in reminded me of the upstairs of my Grandpa Cornell’s house, which was a little like an attic space which had been converted into a bedroom.

Sometimes, Josh is still alive in my dreams, and other times I am aware that I am dreaming of the present day. When he appears in my dreams, I accept that he is still alive, but later when I wake up I will cling to those images.

I have had dreams about moments which turned out to be true. For example, when I was younger I dreamed about sitting down in front of a computer terminal I had never seen, in a room I had never been to. I recognized that room and that type of computer when I used the CM Life computer lab during my first year as a student at CMU. I know that I’ve dreamt about a specific place or moment when I suddenly get a feeling of deja vu, and realize that its happen to me in a dream before. But, it’s too late when I make the connection, because the moment has already passed.

Categories
Movies

“Deep House” has a strong premise, but little payoff

I recently watched “Deep House,” and for the most part found the movie to be legitimately creepy. It follows two characters who are urban explorers who dream of making it big on YouTube. They travel to their next challenge, which is to explore a house which is completely submerged underwater. A big part of the movie centers around their exploration of the house. Tension increases as they remind each other, as well as the audience, that they have to return to the surface before their oxygen runs out. But, of course, they run into trouble as they unlock the secrets of the house while encountering the supernatural forces which dwell there.

I was intrigued by the movie because it reminded me of a book I read a couple of years ago called “A House at the Bottom of the Lake.” In it, two teens discover a house which is miraculously preserved. It seems almost unfair to compare the two since they are two different medias, but in my opinion the book told a far more compelling story. There was just something mesmerizing and almost dream-like about how the entire story was constructed.

Three things that would have helped “Deep House” was deeper character development, sharper dialogue, and maybe a little more back story for the house. The movie does reveal more information at the end, but the way that it does it feels somewhat jarring and heavy-handed. As much of a cliche’ for haunted house movies as it might seem, this film would have benefitted from a few scenes where the characters return to the surface and then conducted their own research of the house. It could have been an exploration of knowledge as well as the house itself. But, the main thrust of the story was the underwater environment of the sunken house, and the movie certainly delivered on that.

The movie is worth the watch, although it mostly inspired me to read “A House at the Bottom of the Lake” again, because in the end I discovered that I craved a story that went a little deeper.

Categories
Movies

“You Get Me” was a Movie I wish I had Skipped

Last night, I took my chances with a dumb-sounding movie called “You Get Me” on Netflix. Based on the title and the description, it definitely had some stalking vibes, like “Fatal Attraction.” Unfortunately, it turned out to be a ninety minutes that I’ll never get back.

In the movie, the lead character, Tyler, has a one-night stand with Holly fifteen minutes after his girl friend, Allison, dumps him for acting like a jerk at a party. He ends up going to a night club with Holly, and then they hook up. The guy has second thoughts in the morning, and eventually makes up with Allison, so they get back together. But, unfortunately Holly has enrolled at his high school, and slowly begins to make his life a living hell.

The only redeeming thing about the movie was possibly the scenery, and the suspense that was created as Holly slowly became crazier and crazier. The biggest takeaway for me was that I’m grateful that I’m done with high school and dating

Categories
Family

The Great Office Experiment

A few weeks ago, I moved my computer equipment to the vacant bedroom upstairs. I did this for many reasons. First, I felt like it would free up space in the master bedroom, allowing me to organize things a little and make it more of a living space. Second, I had worked inside the upstairs bedroom before, and remember it being very quiet. It’s also generally a lot warmer upstairs than downstairs, a definite advantage in the winter.

I also felt like it would please my wife to free up space in the bedroom, because she often complains about how messy it had gotten. I concluded that a workspace where I worked on computer-related projects didn’t blend well with a space intended for other activities, like sleeping or just hanging out. I guess that, ultimately, the separation of these two sides was like an experiment to see what would happen if my bedroom was turned into just a bedroom.

The results were that my bedroom did feel a lot more open and comfortable. There just was a lot more empty floor space.

Why did I move my workstation back downstairs? Our daughter is visiting this weekend, so it seemed better to restore her bedroom to the way she left it. Also, not everybody agreed with my “occupation” of the upstairs bedroom. But, there are also advantages to containing all of my stuff in one room, namely that it becomes a lot easier to keep track of. I think that Elijah benefited from my presence upstairs, especially when I’d be working in the evening and he was tucked in for the night.

Categories
Family

How I became a fan of Chadtronic

A few years ago, probably around 2016 or 2017, we were hanging around at home when I told Josh he needed to see a funny video I had found on the Internet. I cast it onto the TV, and we both shared a good laugh. Then, he asked me if I had ever heard of Chadtronic.

Chadtronic? No, I hadn’t seen any of his videos, although I was getting the impression that Josh very much had. He found an episode on YouTube where Chadtronic reacted to an old video from the 1990’s which helped show people how to get connected to the Internet. I was drawn in by both the nostalgia of the video and Chadtronic’s sense of humor, and from that point forward we always tried to catch every one of the videos that he posted. When one of us saw a notification that a new video had gone live, we’d share the news and then gather around the TV so we could watch it together. It just wasn’t the same watching them for the first time without Josh in the room.

When Elijah was old enough, we introduced him to Chadtronic, although he brought his own perspective.

I suppose that I might have eventually stumbled across Chadtronic on YouTube. What I treasure the most is the time that I spent with Josh watching his videos, sharing a few good laughs, and discovering new memes together..

Categories
Family

Recognizing my Sons on National Son Day

As sons go, Josh and Elijah are the best companions that a dad could ask for. Elijah still has a fresh view of the world that helps to keep me feeling young. Josh kept me on my toes. I appreciate all of the time that we were able to spend together. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Elijah.

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Categories
Career

Job News

I’m happy to share that next week I will be starting my new position with the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort as a Digital Marketing Strategist. I’m excited to take on this new adventure, and grateful for the opportunity.

Categories
Family

Senior Year of College already

It’s hard to believe it, but today my daughter, Kayla, started her senior year at CMU. Even harder to believe is the fact that in a couple of semesters, she will be getting her college diploma and stepping out into the wide open world of life, profession, relationships, and everything else that comes included when you become an adult. I knew that this day was coming, but back when it was three or four years away it seemed so far off.

Kayla has done amazingly with her classes, and already has a lot to be proud of. She was also a trooper, balancing her college classes with everything that was going on with her brother, Josh, helping us by watching her little brother Elijah, and adjusting to a new way of doing things as we all dealt with COVID19, lockdowns, and virtual classes.

Good luck with this new year, Kayla.

Categories
Family

The New Mutants

Just finished watching “The New Mutants” with Kayla Morgan. Overall, the movie was better than I expected, but as my daughter put it “nothing seemed to really happen.” Perhaps it is strongest as a character study. It felt kind of like the Bottle Show episode of a really expensive TV series. It’s still worth checking out (especially for free at the library).

I think it was on Josh’s radar for a little bit as a movie he might have wanted to see. It was out in the theaters early on during COVID-19. I’m not sure if he would have liked it or not. Kayla seemed to get into the movie, despite its flaws. I’m glad she was able to watch it with me, because it would have felt wrong to see this particular one alone.

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