Tag Archives: MJ

Would You Wear Pajamas at the Bus Stop?


Marriage ain’t easy, and we’ve been through more than our fair share of rough spots.

Pregnancy, not being able to get pregnant, multiple miscarriages, dealing with abortion protesters, financial hardships, mental health issues, and the Great Hershey Bar War of 2009 are just some of the bullcrap MJ and I have endured in our eight years of marriage.

But now we face a much bigger — and completely unexpected — problem which is currently threatening to tear us apart.

Pajamas at the bus stop.

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Not Everyone Gets to Go Home


Sammy, my 7-month-old, couldn’t stop throwing up.

Violent wretching that produced green bile, complete with little brown flecks we’d later learn were feces. Every 10 minutes — almost on the dot — he would scream in horrible anguish while clutching his tiny belly and drawing his knees to his chest. His face went from cherry red to purple, and when the terrifying silent screams began it was the miniscule yet bulging veins on the side of his head that spoke volumes about his pain level.

But as scary as his screaming was, I preferred that over the lethargy.

When the wave of screams finally subsided, he would go into an even more frightening state of malaise. He just sat there, eyes rolling around in his head, looking totally confused. He couldn’t focus his eyes on anything or anyone, and was basically unresponsive. I begged him for a smile, for a scream, for ANY kind of recognition on his part — but nothing. The only thing that could break him out of his zombified state was another round of gut-wrenching abdominal pain.

The local ER. The preliminary diagnosis of a stomach virus. Sticking a little baby with a needle to put in an IV line. It was all a blur, because all I could do was focus on my helpless son and try to telepathically will him back to good health.

It didn’t work.

Phone calls. Doctor huddles. Plans to open the local pediatric ward just for Sam. Scrapping those plans because they feared whatever was happening was beyond their level of expertise. Four separate people in the ER in addition to the nurses — some of them patients themselves — took one look at Sam (whose skin had begun to turn Simpsons yellow) and wished us teary-eyed “good lucks.”

Suddenly Sam was getting an ambulance ride to Boston Children’s Hospital. MJ rode with him, which meant I had to drive myself the hour north to the city. Actually, it took 54 minutes. I timed it on my GPS. Because those 54 minutes were the only time I was allowing myself to freak the fuck out. To cry. To scream. To let the stark terror I was feeling consume me so I could play the “What If?” game with myself in an empty car instead of burdening my wife.

I thought about my son dying. About buying a tiny casket. About delivering his eulogy at a memorial service. I thought about friends who have lost children and how unimaginable that is. I spent 54 minutes allowing myself to think the unthinkable. Then I stuffed those thoughts in the trunk of my car and let the valet drive them away.

I won’t go into the specifics of Sam’s medical condition, except to say the doctors at Boston Children’s did a FANTASTIC job of diagnosing him quickly and accurately. The treatment is, unfortunately, very painful and invasive — but they were able to avoid surgery. And avoiding surgery on a 7-month-old is a huge, huge thing.


What’s important is they found a diagnosis and the condition was treatable. Because, as I saw first-hand in Boston, that is not always the case.

The hallways of Boston Children’s are painted with bright colors and pictures of animals and majestic landscapes every few feet. But those cheery corridors belie the feeling of dread, doom, and death that looms around every corner. There were too many little kids with bald heads, too many small patients moaning in pain, and too many parents crying in corners to pretend otherwise.

Your world shrinks when your child is hospitalized with a serious condition.

Time of day ceases to matter, and it’s measured instead by time between instances of vomiting. Time until the next nurse check. Time he’s held down his food. Suddenly there’s a hyper focus on the next thing, on what’s immediately in front of you. He has to hold down that food before we can worry about the next test which will tell us if we need the ultrasound which will let us know if we can do a non-surgical procedure instead of opening him up.

Life becomes a series of short, punctuated milestones beyond which is the complete unknown. And if you don’t lock the unknown in your trunk and let the valet worry about it, you’re in for a long, long night.

In the end, Sam was fine. They figured out what was wrong, fixed it (although it took multiple tries), and he got to go home. When they told us he was good to go home, I let my emotions loose for the first time in two days. I ran to him, picked him up, danced around, and let out a full-fledged “WOOOOOOO BABY!!!!” MJ and I hugged him close and we all smiled triumphantly as we collected our belongings to return home.

That’s when we heard the pained and agonizing scream from a child down the hall. So much hurt. So much anguish. And I’m sure he/she had two parents close by, whose hearts were making the same sound of torment.

Our smiles faded as we walked solemnly down the hall toward the elevator, the screams from behind us echoing ironically off the festive yellow walls. They are screams that will sporadically play in my head until my heart no longer beats. They are a reminder that not everyone gets a triumphant elevator ride to the lobby carrying a bundle of joy.

Not everyone gets to go home.

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Working Parents Have It Tough

wheresdadWill, who will be six years old in April, was asked by his kindergarten teacher to draw a picture of his family. The picture to the left is the result.

When I saw it, I mistakenly thought he forgot about Sam, our newest addition. “Hey buddy, there I am with mom and we’re holding your hand, but I think you forgot about Sam, silly,” I said with a grin. His face immediately turned pale and his eyes darted furiously from me to his mother to the picture. His face contorted into a panicked look, leaving little doubt tears would be following closely behind.

“Sorry dad, I forgot to draw you in our family…because you’re always working.”

He would go on to tell me that while he loves me, he just loves his mom more. Ouch. Cue Cat’s in the Cradle with a side of massive working parent guilt.

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SayYesToLess_1200x630Will: “Dad, I know opposites.”
Me: “Really pal? Then tell me, are mom and I opposites?”
Will: “Yes. Mom is skinny and you are — “
Me: “Yeah I get it bud, thanks.”

At first, this made-for-TV-sitcom moment had me laughing. A 5-year-old kid innocently uses his newfound knowledge to inadvertently make a fat guy crack about his dad? That’s funny. It’s always been funny. I even tweeted it and recounted across my other social media channels. Because, well — I am fat. I’ve always been kind of fat. And as most fat guys will tell you, being jolly and self-deprecating about your weight is the first rule of being a fat guy.

But after 24 hours of thinking on it and letting my son’s comments bounce around in my head, I’m no longer laughing. Because it’s not funny.

And now I’m pissed at myself.

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Our Love Story: We Met in Middle School


Since it’s Valentine’s Day, let me break down our love story “How I Met Your Mother” style…

Will, Sam, I’m gonna be honest with you. The very first memory I have of your mother involves her sticking her tongue down Jason Pierce’s throat. She was 12, it was a middle school dance, and it was hard to miss her because she was so damn tall. And skinny — all elbows and knees. But she and I weren’t friends and we didn’t talk because we were in different social circles.

And then she left and moved to Pennsylvania (and then eventually Cape Cod) for high school. I’m pretty sure neither one of us gave the other a second thought.

Fast forward to my first day of college orientation. I picked a tiny little mountain school in the Berkshires, in part because I wanted a fresh start with a whole group of people I didn’t know. So imagine my surprise when one of the first faces I saw was your mother’s. Except I barely recognized her. The girl who was all elbows and knees had grown up and into herself, and she was stunning. I tried chatting her up but she was quick to remind me that I had ignored her in middle school, and therefore I was banished to the friend zone.

And so it was for the next six years.

Not only didn’t your mother and I date, this time we did hang out in the same circles. That means she saw every bad dating decision and questionable hook-up I had in college. I gave up any and all hope of dating her, although I always wanted to.

In May 2004, your mom and I ended up at the same house party. Again, because I thought I had no shot with your mom, I had my eye on another girl. But a friend torpedoed me, which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened. Your mom (over the course of a few adult beverages) told me she always had a little crush on me. And I (over the course of even more adult beverages), responded with the romantic and immortal words that went on to forge the foundation of our relationship: “You’re a f*#@ing liar!”

Then we made out in back of a woodshed, and were engaged 8 months later. Well, 13 years and 8 months later.

I had no idea that at 11 years old I had just met my future wife. But just remember, sometimes the long and windy roads are the most rewarding.


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