2020….2020…2020…We have all been part of this crazy, chaotic, ever changing year! And we are all better for it. But this has nothing to do with our self pity, woe is me, life sucks attitude the world has adopted, this is about the positivity that is to come!

My family has squabbled about what to do with Christmas, work continues to be crazy in so many ways, our platform tennis team is on a month long losing streak despite Coach Jacksons best efforts but hey, I survived the Gritis division in my big league and am in the fantast playoffs, mostly thanks to Keegan blah blah blah…

As we get ready to celebrate Erin’s birthday Saturday and Christmas 6 days after, and having already celebrated the most gorgeous 29 year old in Sarah Kiep earlier in the month, life is good! But of course I want to reflect…

I drove east on I-88 tonight toward Oakbrook as I have done 1000 times in my life and especially last couple years going to work, but tonight for some reason all I could see was that ambulance Sarah and I chased from CDH all the way to the city with Charlie, man, if you take me back that is my most vivid memory chasing that ambulance, why, because I was happy and ready to see Charlie rebound and get the best care possible, we were doing the right thing and I was not going to let that kid out of my sight…but why tonight I thought. I have been on that stretch of highway so many times in the last 4 years but tonight, all I could see was the ambulance and Sarah and I chasing, grabbing Sarah’s hand and telling her this is great, we are on the right track, so why tonight was it so vivid??????

Pianissimo? Yes that was playing but I did not know that song 4 years ago!

I think so many factors as is life play a role and the balance is key…that highway drive climaxed with Sarah and I walking into Lurie Childrens Hospital ready to ask the first person we saw how to get to Charlie but before we could, what did we see…god damn bunch of crazy family there for us!!!! Sons of bitches they are always there, the best family beat us to the hospital open arms hugging and wanting to know what we knew, so where am I going with this, why tonight did I have this vision of the ambulance and Charlie and…I don’t know but here is what I like to think——-

A couple weeks ago, I was giving Keegan his patented back rub as he went to bed (started during the short time we had with Charlie while Keegan was taken care of by so many great uncles and aunts) and in dead silence he rolled over and said, “I wish Charlie was here, he is my only brother!” WOW! CRUSHING but WONDERFUL! And then, “It’s not fair, he should be here! He was my only brother.” Insane from a 6 year old but actually so heartwarming he has latched on to our memories and talk of Charlie. And then a couple days later, Sarah suggested Keegan and I go bring a wreath over to Charlie, his gravestone is in a cemetery not far from our backyard but normally we take a long walk around the neighborhood to get there. Since there has been a path carved in by our wonderful neighbors who also have a family member in that cemetery so off Keegan and I went, this time through the backyard.

Literally in 100 yards Keegan led us right to Charlie. And as we stood at our gravestone, again, Keegan expressed why it was unfair and Charlie should be with us, crazy I thought as he always fought us going over there before. We got home and Sarah asked if Keegan lead the way, I said yes, he knew exactly where to go, very nice I thought, and then Keegan said of course I knew, Ben (our neighbor) and I have been over before…(we should watch our kids more closely) but holey crap!

And it dawned on me, Keegan knows it all as Erin will. Keegan has felt our pain and our joy and our love, and its his pain and love as well, but then tonight happened. We were showing Erin, Keegan and Ben Erin’s birthday video and that ended then my 40th video Sarah did started playing. Upped popped a Charlies Corner painting we did for the 1st Glen Ellyn Glow in The Park Lantern Walk and our neighbor Ben saw it, “Oh, Charlie’s Corner, yep that sign is hanging by our classroom at school!”

Whoa, we asked Ben questions as we knew we donated that most wonderful painting to Forest Glen 4 years ago, but wow Ben where is it, you recognize it…yes Charlie’s Corner , right outside my classroom! Awesome I thought, I remember the art teacher being so instrumental in passing out lanterns the first year and my favorite picture at the first lantern walk, a whole bunch of Forest Glen students holding there lanterns high in front of the boathouse!!!!!!

Our kids our growing as is only natural and paying attention to everything as we all know, as painful as those memories are from Charlie we never forget, and it hurts for a moment when Keegan or Ben come up with this stuff, but after that moment passes you realize how amazing it is that they recognize what it means and that they form their own memories of Charlie and all he has done for us. My memories are mine, Sarahs are hers and our kids will be theirs, I am glad they are including Charlie and making me remember the moments.

Our paddle team lost again tonight to the displeasure of Coach Jackson, we think our family has figured out Christmas to make all 37 (i think) happy, not sure how you do it Mom and Dad, and learned Matt Andrews drives slower than Jim Harbaugh talking to a recruit, but tonight I am happy. These moments if you let them could feel like a kick in the nuts because I never envisioned a pandemic or my 6 year old dealing with a lost soul, but instead they tug on the heart strings so which I am more than grateful for.

Coach Jackson will want us to win paddle every week, Keegan will get mad at us again for wanting to visit Charlie, our family will squabble and pandemics will happen (hopefully only once in a lifetime)…but perspective and time are a powerful thing, if you told me Keegan would get upset about Charlie I would have told you I would be a terrible Dad and feel awful as I only want Keegan to be happy, but Hallelujah this was a joyous moment and Charlie will be remembered by all…

So many this year have been isolated from family, friends, not been able to say good-bye or hello or anything in between, but guess what if you do it right Coach Jackson will smile again, Keegan will be proud to introduce you to his brother and talk about him and we will be able to have you over for dinner sometime in the near future, life goes on!

Life sucks but at the same time is so amazing. May you find happiness in that ambulance you chase during this most crazy 2020 Holiday Season.

Pianissimo, Amazing Grace and Hallelujah!

I BELIEVE!

Erin, Charlie and Keegans Dad!

One thought on “I love it all…

  1. Love this! And you guys. Don’t take this post down. Keegan- take us the back way next time we come over. Brendan- get better at tennis!!!

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