Turning 43 in the middle of hell

The worst birthday ever

So this is worst birthday ever huh?

I turn 43 today and I can, without a shadow of a damn doubt, say that this will be the most depressing anniversary of my birth yet. Don’t tell that to Madeline, however.

As I carried her up the stairs to bed last night, she looked at me and whispered, “I can’t wait for tomorrow!”

I leaned back to look at her, not really remembering what Saturday was and asked “Why?”.

One of the many things we will see more of soon

“Whhhyyyy?” she said with a smile. “Cause it’s your birthday!”

Kids always know how to put the pieces back together when your world is being blown apart by forces you can’t control.

Madeline has been in the house now for 21 days straight and she has a minimum of 27 days to go before she can see another human other than her parents but she is in good spirits. Life events like a birthday help to normalize the most abnormal of situations.

I have gone out but only to get essentials. Theresa has gone to work but only when it has been required. We are doing school via the computer and I’m hosting my radio show out of my sports room upstairs at the house. Most days feel exactly the same as the last. It’s like a bad 2020 remake of Groundhog Day with all of us playing the role of the cynical weatherman.

I often catch myself wondering what Madeline will remember about these days in captivity. That thought bubble over my head is why I wanted to write something down about what is happening to all of us. We are all in this together but we are also legally separated by government order. The internet keeps us connected and informed but it also gives us so much information that we often are paralyzed with the amount of fear it creates inside of our heads.

The entire world is dealing the same problem and that has caused everything to come to a complete standstill. No travel. No work. No fun. The Las Vegas Strip is silent. Caesar’s Palace opened in 1966 and for the first time ever, it’s closed. This virus has shut down things we thought would never go dark.

If you contract our world’s invisible infection, it has the potential to do literally nothing to you all the way to putting on you a machine to keep you alive. The range is so dramatic and so overwhelming that it doesn’t seem like this is real life. This virus is a respiratory illness which makes it even worse for our family. Every winter Madeline goes to the ER for breathing issues caused when she had a collapsed lung at 6 months old. We don’t know how strong her lungs are now at 5 years old. Theresa isn’t sleeping over it. She keeps saying that she wants the next day to start because she doesn’t know what is going to happen.

That’s anxiety caused by the fact that we just don’t know what the future looks like.

There is no director in this movie. There is no one leading us or guiding us through this abyss. The people on TV are trying to give us advice but they don’t really know.  Even some of them are now sick. And that’s the most obvious thing about the Covid-19 outbreak so far …. the experts don’t seem to know what they are predicting is actually accurate. There is an overwhelming feeling that they are throwing darts blindfolded, hoping they hit the bullseye.

At a macro-level, the more than 7,400 deaths in this country so far seem just like any other stat we have seen on the TV news for years. That’s until you realize that on a microlevel, that was someone’s grandmother or grandfather or brother or mother who went to the hospital and never came home.

Once you realize that, the world becomes so dark that there isn’t a light bright enough on the planet to cut through it.

WASH YOUR HANDS

The way I’m coping and I imagine how you are coping, is to go day-by-day. The only thing I can control is how I deal with each day that I’m given from here on out. Our job, as parents, is protect our daughter. That’s the only thing we know how to do and that gives me a purpose to wake up each day and fight to make sure that happens.

I’ve been fighting since I was little, so this is my default mode. Theresa loves to tell the story of when she told me she was pregnant with Madeline and my freaked out reaction. I told her I was in my “crisis” mode, ignited by the knowledge that I was about to become responsible for another human life. I’ve had to fire that up again because of Covid-19.

Yet, it is possible in a crisis to find a way to come out better on the other side. Staying healthy is the priority but I’ve been giving myself daily and weekly goals in order to keep my competitive juices flowing as much as possible and give my mind a chance to stay sharp. My fight was supposed to be March 28th and then rescheduled for May 9th. The new date is not going to happen either but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t workout as much as I can or find ways to become a better person during this shutdown.

Yesterday, I challenged myself to do 245 pushups in 15 minutes. I was able to do 246 in 14 minutes. It’s a small victory but any victory during this time is welcomed. I’m going to study sports gambling trends. Watch shows I’ve been meaning to watch. Email people I respect. I need to keep finding minuscule triumphs to draw positive energy from to keep me going.

For all of us, we have to stay engaged and keep moving forward. Staying still or going backward can’t be an option. Our brains are our own worst enemies right now. We must move headfirst into each day and silence the part of our minds that tells us to crawl into a hole and disappear. We owe it to the medical professionals who are battling this virus on the front lines to stay mentally strong. We owe it to them to get past this and keep our country alive for them for when this is over.

I turned 23 in Huntsville, Alabama. I turned 33 in Boston. I’m turning 43 in Las Vegas. My life has been a trip but this is one of the parts of the roller coaster where I’m not entirely sure the cart isn’t going to fly off the tracks. We are white knuckling each day and I wonder how long we all can live this like.

I’ve been through 9-11, The Boston Marathon Bombing, The Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting and now the worst pandemic since 1918. The bottom line is that this current drop in the ride is unlike any one of the previous horrific moments in my personal history over the last 43 years.

Let’s hope we start the climb out of this hell soon.