A Bad Week

This has been a bad week. Not personally, but physically. Routines were knocked off course. Schedules were put in disarray. Convenience trumped doing the right things. Compromises were justified. Again, it was a bad week.

Diet
Some of you may know, but I’d adhere to a relatively strict eating window. 8 hours from the first bite of food. It’s called intermittent fasting, and I’m a big believer in its effectiveness. This week, I ate outside that window several times. Late night cravings, early morning cravings, and cravings in between.

I hear you saying,”What’s the big deal? So you ate outside an arbitrary eating window.” And I would agree had I not eaten 6 Oreos, 3 m&m cookies, a grilled cheese, a chocolate muffin, a handful of Doritos, a Dr Pepper, a choco-cherry blizzard, and a HUUUUUUUUGE bowl of Cookie Crisp cereal. Additionally, I didn’t meet my macronutrient goals 4 out of the last 7 days.

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Why did I do this? Why was this week the week I binged? The holiday weekend threw the schedule into a blender and hit “frappe”. More time at home was great (even with the 100 dirty diapers I changed), but it also made me more likely to fudge my diet.

I think most of us are like this. We have a routine that is stringent and provided the planets and moon align with sun just perfectly, it all goes to plan. However, the first wrench thrown in our works causes the whole operation to go into the toilet. This was me last week. It was easy to grab a cookie or a muffin. I was late for a meeting. I had an appointment. The kids had to get to school.

All of that was crap and just an excuse to be lazy.

Working Out
This week was a planned deloading week, with a focus on stability work. We were still scheduled to workout 4 days this week, but with focus being on bodyweight and core work. While necessary, this protocol caused me to lower my intensity. I didn’t have the same drive. I didn’t bring the same vigor as I would had we been jacking steel.

And sprint day? That was also not smart. Due to schedules, we had to do it at noon, in Yuma, Arizona, in September. Not smart. I went through motions and was genuinely smoked, but not from the workout. 107 degrees on a turf field got into my head and I didn’t attack it the way I normally do.

The Good News
This week doesn’t undo the other 51. If I wanted to, I could throw in the towel, and accept that it’s just too difficult to be fit. I could allow my circumstances to dictate my existence. But that would be the easy way out. That’s what most people do. They become victims instead of conquerors.

I refuse to allow 7 days to dictate the other 358.

That’s the great thing about fitness. It’s a struggle from sun up to sun down. In those moments of struggle, you find your strength or weakness. You choose which one it will be.

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Don’t Be the Count of Monte Carbo

Fat was the enemy in the 1980’s. If you ate fat, you would get fat. The food industry responded and removed the fat. Unfortunately, the cardboard wafers tasted like cardboard wafers and they replaced the fat with the favorite seductress of the American diet: sugar. Of course, they marketed the poo out of it being fat free. Overweight, middle aged women gorged themselves on Snackwell’s devil’s food cookies and uttered phrases like,”I don’t understand why I can’t lose weight.”

Then South Beach and Atkins came around and declared war on all carbs. Some people were even dubbed “Real Men of Genius” for their over the top carb counting ways.

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People scrambled to find ways to have a BBQ without potato salad.

Mashed potatoes? What are you trying to do, kill me?

Yeah, um, I’ll have screwdriver, but without the orange juice. [pats belly]. Don’t need those carbs.

Again, the food industry responded. Low carb was in. Sure there was enough aspartame to kill a horse, but NO CARBS BABY!

Sure people were passing out from ketosis at the cyclic rate, but hey, we’re thin. Right?

Wrong.

What Atkins and South Beach capitalized on was that the American diet was composed of simple sugars and over processed “food like product”. If these diets stopped at that, then all would be good. But again, an overreaction caused them to throw the baby out with the bath water and denounce all carbs as the preferred macronutrient of satan.

Your body needs carbs. In addition to many other functions, carbs are stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen. When exercise begins, that stored glycogen converts to glucose and serves as the energy to power through your workout.

For the meatheads in the group (I know who you are. We can smell our own), it’s highly unlikely we will ever deplete those glycogen stores just through resistance training. Does this mean we swear off carbs and eat another pound of bacon? Of course not. We still eat the pound of bacon because it’s delicious, but we eat a slice of toast with it. If your training for hypertrophy (muscle building), those carbs will assist in turning those lifeless appendages hanging from your shoulders into arms Hercules would envy. If you’re training for power, you’ll have the energy to train longer than that one rep max on the bench.

For you endurance athletes: HAHAHAHAHA! YEAH RIGHT, LIKE I CARE!

Just kidding, you need love too. Carb love, because the chances of you depleting your glycogen levels are very real. Cutting out carbs is a terrible idea. Michael Scott knows what’s up. Carbs should be the focal point of your diet, especially pre 5k or marathon or triathlon or whatever you weirdos enjoy doing.

For you dieters without exercise, go ahead and reduce your carb intake. Not completely, but if you are an anti-exercise, reducing your carb intake isn’t going to adversely affect you. You will also never reach your goals just by dieting. Hey, don’t get mad at me. I speaks da troof. If you heed this advice, I just saved you a few years of ridiculous failure. YOU’RE WELCOME!

So to recap, carbs are not the devil. They are, in fact, an integral part of athletic performance. Depending on your method of exercise, you may need more or less, but you definitely need some. Now get out there and bury your face in a plate full of brownies!

Grab the Pitchforks and Torches, He’s Talking Ugly About Crossfit

Despite the title, I like Crossfit. No seriously, I really do. We as a nation are fatter than we’ve ever been. The rates of diabetes and obesity have grown exponentially in the last 20 years. Being overweight has become the norm. Anything that will combat this, I’m all for. Crossfit has created a community that celebrates hard work, accountability, and jacking steel. All good things.

But, it’s not without its flaws.

The following paragraphs will be some nerd talk, followed by the list of areas where Crossfit could improve. Crossfit Nazis, this is your cue to stop reading, go to the list, and then directly to the comments section on Facebook to tell me how big of a douche I am. Go ahead. You know that’s what you really want to do.

My biggest issue with Crossfit is their misuse of exercises. I’ll address this in the list, but I want to give you some background. When a person does anything physical (walking, lifting weights, etc.), the body starts creating energy through three pathways: the immediate, the non-oxidative glycolytic, and the oxidative. The type of exercise you’re doing, will determine which pathway becomes the primary.

The immediate is just like it sounds. A short burst of max effort. The central nervous system (CNS) turns on the muscles needed and starts expending energy at a rapid rate which quickly depletes the supply of ATP. This energy system can be taxed for about 5-15 seconds and then it begins relying on the next pathway. The ATP has to be regenerated and that can take up to 8 minutes to fully regenerate. An example would be the 100 m dash or a one rep max of deadlift.

The non-oxidative glycolytic energy system takes over after you’ve expended all ATP from the immediate. It begins breaking down carbohydrates to create glycogen and glucose which assists in the production of ATP. Unlike the immediate, the energy stores are almost never depleted. But what keeps us from not using this pathway beyond ~90 seconds, is the buildup of lactic acid. Lactic acid begins to gather in the muscles causing pain and fatigue. This can be trained and manipulated so that athletes are able to go beyond 90 seconds, but that’s a general guideline.

The last is the oxidative. This takes over after the non-oxidative glycolytic becomes too painful. Think of running as fast as you can, then slowing down the pace to catch your breath. The carbohydrates are still used, but now oxygen is needed to create ATP. The slow twitch muscle fibers, which are smaller and not as powerful, but need no recovery time, take over and you begin to exercise aerobically, or as I like to call it aero-boring-cally. Am I right?

Now that the science is out of the way, now we can get into the problems—er, issues with Crossfit. What do you think Jesse?

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1) No accountability for technique-There are good Crossfit “boxes” out there, but a majority of coaches are undertrained and have no business teaching anyone anything, let alone complex and highly difficult Olympic lifts. Teaching someone to clean and jerk, takes months, sometimes longer. Yet, within a week of Crossfitting, you’ll be cleaning and jerking and snatching and deadlifting and box jumping and running and push upping and overhead squatting and crunching and rope climbing and monkey barring and various other forms of whatever else the workout of the day (WOD) calls for.

2) Misuse of exercises-This, combined with the poor technique mentioned above, creates a dangerous cocktail. Take the WOD “Fight Gone Bad”. This is a benchmark WOD consisting of five stations that you rotate through after a minute on each. You do this for 3 or 5 rounds. The stations are:

1. Wallball Shots: 20 pound ball, 10 ft target.
2. Sumo Deadlift High-Pull: 75 pounds
3. Box Jump: 20″ box
4. Push Press: 75 pounds
5. Row: calories

In this workout, I see 5 exercises that cause strain on the lower back, done in quick succession, that will eventually use the oxidative pathway, and that by round 5, will be done in a state of near exhaustion. Sweet!

Should we push the limits to lose weight or become a better athlete? Absolutely. We have to push the envelope to improve, but we need to do it intelligently. Let’s talk deadlift. The deadlift is the most manly, bad-ass, primitive lift in the gym. Pick heavy object up. Put heavy object down. It works the posterior chain, including the legs and back. When doing a deadlift, we want to create strength and power. Not endurance. So why do it for 5 minutes? Not to mention no matter how lightly loaded, a deadlift completed in fashion where time and reps are the most important things, is dangerous.

Can you cross train and utilize resistance training to operate in the oxidative pathway? Absolutely, but why use exercises like deadlifts, power cleans, and heavy squats? There are much safer ways to exercise aerobically using resistance training. Push ups, air squats , sled pushes, rope pulls, etc.

3) Lack of Strength and Power- Strength is a bastardized term that we use to describe all of feats of muscly goodness. My question: Is a guy who can bench press 135 lbs., 70 times strong? He may be, but not based on that feat. He has great muscular endurance, but he may not be strong. Most Crossfit workouts build great muscular endurance, but lack explosiveness and strength. This is troubling not only because it is ignoring the larger fast twitch fibers, but also because it doesn’t condition the 2 most important energy pathways for athletic performance.

Additionally, the ability of these fast twitch muscle fibers to contract rapidly, decrease with age and the slow twitch muscle fibers take over. I’m not sure what the clientele for most Crossfit boxes are, but not properly incorporating power training for the older clientele is irresponsible. They need to train for power and strength not so they can enter a powerlifting competition, but so they can quickly gather themselves if they slip on a wet spot. Or trip going down stairs. Their muscles need the ability to grab the handrail with a strong grip once, not with a weak grip 100 times.

Bold Statement: You will never get truly strong doing Crossfit. Can the Crossfit games dudes life more weight than me? Yeah. I like burying my face in a gallon of ice cream while I watch “Breaking Bad”. Not exactly difficult to out lift me bro. But, they aren’t even close to competitive powerlifters that weigh 20 lbs. less. And that is where the programming needs improvement.

And yes, I hear you Crossfit brofessor, “That’s not the goal of Crossfit. The goal of Crossfit is to be well rounded in 10 functional areas—” SHUT UP! Skylar knows what I’m talking about. So, the goal of Crossfit is to make you equally average in a bunch of arbitrary and overlapping areas? Gotcha!

4) Lack of Mobility/Stability Work- I met a diehard Crossfitter in Afghanistan. He was drinking the Kool Aid from a funnel like Frank the Tank. He would talk about the WOD and tried his best to get me to workout with him. I politely (most of the time not politely) declined every time. We would talk about training and of course he would talk about the WOD. The subject of overhead squats came up and he mentioned that he was weak. I asked, “How weak?” He said, “I can do a piece of PVC pipe.” I asked him how he planned to get better and he said, “Keep overhead squatting, dumbass.” I asked how long he’d been able to just do the PVC pipe and he said that it had been over a year. More than 365 days of watching men and women with a fraction of his ability outperform him.

This guy was in good shape. There was no reason for him not to be able to overhead squat more weight. Despite his strength, he lacked flexibility in his hip flexors or stability in his lower back which was greatly affecting his performance. What was his plan to fix this? “Keep overhead squatting, dumbass.” A very rudimentary plan could have been developed to assist him, but that would have involved bands and maybe some machine work and as we all know, the cavemen didn’t have bands or machines.

5) Lack of Programming- As in no programming. Whatever the trainer who paid for his weekend certification can think of (I got mine online, where all good trainers come from) is the WOD. This makes it impossible to plan long term. What if your goal is to squat twice your body weight, jump higher, or play a basketball game without being winded? Those are goals that require progression, planning with benchmarks, and planned deloading periods. The randomness for the sake of randomness makes it impossible to make progress. Additionally, no planned deloading periods never allow athletes to fully rejuvenate and refresh, which is an unfortunately neglected part of fitness.

6) Unable to Take Criticism- Did I mention I like Crossfit? The problem I have is that an honest critique like this one will be met with venom. YO, CROSSFIT BROS, I CRITIQUE EVERYONE’S PROGRAM! I always think there’s room for improvement and ways to get better. I’m especially critical of my own plans. Every day I learn something new and say, “How could I not know that?” Crossfitters are very protective of the Crossfit god and look at any tweak as an insult.

A good example. I have twitter associate (twissociate?) who is a great trainer in NYC. Great, great guy. He too liked Crossfit, but also saw its shortcomings as well. He started working with a Crossfit affiliate to restructure the workouts so that his areas of concern could be addressed. Wind of them changing the sanctity of Crossfit drew the ire of Crossfit HQ and the guy was threatened with losing his affiliate. My twissociate was forced to end the partnership that could have been great for his company and his clients.

To sum up:

I like Crossfit. Anything that makes people decrease the butt groove in the couch, I’m all for. But it has its limitations that a seasoned trainer can spot and work around to improve performance. If only we could merge Crossfit with some common sense training techniques, we would have the world’s greates………

RIP Jason Crutchfield. He was abducted by Greg Glassman and his body was never found.

Add Water and Observe PFM.

Magic is a word that we use to describe too many things. We attach it to things we don’t want to research, so we assume it’s magic. In the military, I’ve heard too many acronyms to list, but my favorite is PFM. I won’t divulge the entire acronym, but the “p” is pure, and the “m” is magic. I assume you can figure out the rest. It is an immediate and disarming answer for when you have a great idea and have no clue how it will be accomplished. “How exactly do plan to get the the equipment from point A to point B with no resources?” “PFM, sir.” Everyone laughs and all the questions disappear. In a sense, the use of PFM is PFM.

Not that I am dismissive of magic, because it does happen. In fact, I’m watching it right now. My three offspring are huddled around a cheaply made, Chinese piece of plastic that is underneath an outdoor water faucet. And the sight is truly magical. I wasn’t there when Ernest Rutherford split the atom, but I imagine he was less surprised than my children when they figured out how to activate the outdoor water dispensing apparatus.

There is splashing, filling the water table, turning over the water table. More splashing and refilling. Toys, once thought old and past their prime, gain new life with the addition of water. Brothers who will argue over who owns which one of the hundred variations of Lightning McQueen, are sharing the toy that captures the imagination: a plastic cup. Callie is soaked from head to toe and has a smile so bright, the sun is envious.

This experience, like the mystery of magic, fades with time and experience. The goodwill eventually evaporates. The water table gets flipped one too many times. The plastic cup becomes a symbol of power that of course, is abused. Callie turns into a pumpkin once she realizes it is 15 minutes past nap time. And colds previous thought defeated, rear their ugly heads in the form of sniffles that have gotten too sniffly.

As I’m stripping the boys out of their wet clothes, I’m reflecting on where I have gone wrong. Less than twenty feet away are hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in toys. These toys go mostly unused and occupy valuable real estate in our house. A garden hose and a slightly inflated water bill would save so much money. I wrap the towel around Carson and pull him close to kiss his forehead. In this moment, I realize he and his siblings are worth every penny and chide myself for thinking a simple water table could replace all those toys.

Grant snuggles into the towel and Carson pulls the door to go inside. Over his shoulder he asks,”Dad, can we get in the shower?”

Pride Slays Thanksgiving and Hair Too

A green lawn is unattainable in the state of Florida for a person who doesn’t have the means of a golf course. Now you know. I just saved you countless hours spent watering and nurturing what will surely be a failed endeavor. It took me tripling my water bill and wasting hundreds of dollars to give in. I was a new homeowner. I wanted to take pride the appearance of my lawn, even if it was mostly brown with patches of green. I wanted to be the envy of my neighbors.

Pride is a weird word. It can change definitions like a chameleon. It can be the cause for reverence, or the source of being despised. It can be the seed that grows self-reliance. It can be the sun that wilts the leaves of cooperation. It is destructive and great at the same time.

Pride in your child, can have the same results. This past Saturday, pride was on display and I’ve been beaming ever since.

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We had put it off long enough. The dreaded day that I had procrastinated to the point of negligence had arrived. Carson had begun the transformation from little boy, to long haired John Lennon worshipping hippie and the regression had to happen today. No rationalizing. No more delays. I was hours away from him talking with a fake British accent and getting a life ruining wife. The line in the sand had been drawn.

I whispered to him,”You wanna go get an Icee?” A cheap tactic, I know, but I wasn’t prepared for the wrestling match that would have ensued if I had been completely honest. Regardless, he sprinted to the car and was buckled in record time. His brother heard of our mission and followed behind in what would be described as a bucket of tears held together by flailing appendages. Lacey scooped him up and disappeared behind a closing garage door. Carson was undeterred and focused on that blue Icee.

The car ride was uneventful, mainly because Carson didn’t notice the Sonic when we drove by. I’m a master of distraction and he’s a trusting soul.

I applied the brakes and Carson immediately recognized where we were. “I’m not getting a haircut?” he asked.

“Yeah buddy, it’s haircut time.”

The tears escaped his eyes and he repeated that he wasn’t getting a haircut.

“Buddy, I need you to be really brave today. I know you can do it.”

He dried his eyes and we exited the car. He squeezed my hand as we walked in. The four barbers let out a collective sigh. They knew us. They knew what the next 20 minutes would look like. They knew the blows they would absorb from escaping arms and legs. They knew that I picked them at random when we first landed in Yuma. They knew they had spun the wheel of Carson and were winners for the next three years. They knew.

Or did they.

Carson and I climbed in the chair. He buried his face in my chest and cried. In between sobs, he asked,”Am I done?”a few hundred times. This was par for the course. What wasn’t normal was that he sat relatively still. I consoled him through the tears and the clippings and itching. The barber stopped to change guards and Carson took the opportunity to scotch guard my shoulder. Our faces locked and he asked,”I’m being brave dad?”.

“Of course, big guy. You’re being brave.”

The barber continued to shear away the unwanted hair. She consoled him through broken English and what sounded like sympathetic Spanish. Carson again asked if it was over. Broken English that I couldn’t decipher, but she stopped cutting. Carson took this to mean that all was good and popped out of my arms. The shirt immediately was removed and a dance that resembled Elaine Benes at an office party commenced.

I paid and we exited the shop. A skinny, pale, and shirtless Carson held my hand to the car. I scooped him and kissed his hair covered forehead. He settled into his car seat. The tears had dried and composure was fully regained. We rolled down the road toward the Icee store. I hadn’t lied, just delayed.

“I was brave, dad.”

I didn’t know if it was a question or a statement. Several seconds passed. More seconds. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t ruin this moment. The moment I was the most proud of my son. It wasn’t that he didn’t cry, or didn’t scream, or didn’t get upset. He did all of those things. It was that even though he was scared, he did it anyway. I asked him to be brave, and he was.

There are many times I’ve been proud of Carson. He has been the quiet protector and the unwilling sharer. Last Saturday, he became brave because he was asked. And that’s a great reason to be prideful.

Carson Is Not Thomas Edison’s Kid

I don’t like many things. Seinfeld felt my pain. His ability to be frustrated over the minutiae of daily life made me a devoted follower, because there was someone else out there like me. For example, I dated a girl in college who would sing “…give me the Beach Boys and free my soul// I wanna get lost in….”. No matter how many times I corrected her, she still sang it that way. It was like nails on the chalkboard of my soul. Although I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason we broke up, that is the lasting memory I have of her. Additionally, I’m quite the contrarian. With most of my lineage originating in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I naturally hated the one thing that united them: the Lexington institution of “higher” learning’s basketball team. I chose to root for Duke University just to infuriate them. There were no ties to Duke or even the state of North Carolina, but it was the team that they hated most.

But the bit of minutiae that I hate at the moment, is the traditional practice of shaving. Hot water. Foaming goo. Carefully scraping a sharp object across the surface of your face. Pieces of toilet paper sticking to your face, because there is no way to not cut your face. Your face is shaped like a face. It will get cut. Going into the process knowing you will disfigure yourself is a good way to lower your expectations. I highly advise it. The whole practice is non-sensical and stupid. These guys agree:

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Luckily, someone shared my distaste for the process and invented the electric razor. In the infancy of my shaving years, I was told that the electric razor was inferior to manual. Despite these claims (and my contrarian nature), I dismissed the detractors and became a loyal electric razorer. Many a joyous morning was spent looking in the rear view mirror and shaving without a care in the world. Sure, there were looks from other commuters, but they were just jealous of my ten extra minutes if sleep.

There is one drawback of the electric razor. It must be assembled to work. I know this because mine is currently in a non-mission capable state, due to it being in a dozen pieces and occupying the vast black hole that is the backseat of the car.

Upon returning from church last weekend, I noticed the razor was missing from the designated cup holder. I traced its path by following the parts laid out like bread crumbs and it led to my oldest’s seat. Doing his best Thomas Edison, he was looking closely, turning knobs, and of course evaluating the razor’s durability through a series of stress tests. I sat and watched this happening. My hope was that he would conclude his tests, then gather the parts and assemble them with little to no effort. His keen analytical mind would see the puzzle strewn out before him an develop a MacGuyver instinct to make it not only a razor, but a weather sensor that would assist in clothing choices. This was not the case. He was as puzzled as I was, and about half as interested.

I started gathering pieces of my formerly awesome razor. Carson seemed inattentive and apathetic to my plight. He knew not of the burning, itching, and accidental cutting. How could he understand? His life is filled with a no consequence diet and unlimited toys. He has another decade of this feeling. His face will stay smooth and hair free for the foreseeable future.

And honestly, I don’t want to ruin his ignorance. I want him to stay five years old forever. I want him to think his daddy has the biggest muscles. That happiness is as easy as a pack of gum. And that success is talking your mom into a pack of Cars 2 microdrifters. I want him to sit in my lap and read his books forever.

But that isn’t how it goes. One day he too will know the pain of shaving. Then the joy of me purchasing him an electric razor. And the abject horror of me taking that razor apart with a hammer. 😉

Scars Are My Precious Roadmap

It was a normal day. I had just completed the only boring meeting of my day. Chinese or Subway? Chinese. But only because it would be the shortest line at the food court. Where did I park again? I hear the beep, but can’t see it. I find it and check my cell phone. Danato Andriacco had responded to my witty Facebook post. I closed Facebook and saw that Lacey had sent me five texts. This was a normal day.

That changed when I opened the texts. Carnage and horror are terms that I had used to describe football, meetings, and daily life. That seemed trivial and borderline insensitive as I read about the actual definitions of those words. I called Lacey as I drove and the conversation contained a sadness and anger that shouldn’t be discussed. This shouldn’t happen. This was not a normal day.

I rushed home and was glued to the news. I held my head and wiped a few tears that escaped. The grief of those poor people. The updates and the number killed going up. I leaned forward in my chair and said a prayer. Callie, my baby girl, knew I needed a smile. She obliged. I grabbed her off the ground and noticed every nuance of the hug. Her left hand tugged at my collar. Her right grabbed my ear. The drooly kiss didn’t bother me. I held her a little tighter. I froze this moment and decided afternoon work really wasn’t that important.

The boys returned from school. Relief and joy. I grabbed both of them and while Carson was able to escape, Grant was forced to endure my almost breakdown. Another moment frozen and placed in my memory bank.

Preparations for their preschool Christmas musical had to be made. It seemed minute and unimportant, but life has to go on. It has to. Clothes ironed. Naps. And unfortunately, a haircut for Carson. There has been much written about the ordeal that is a Carson haircut, so I won’t rehash the subject. Needless to say, a wrestling match with clippers ensued and Carson emerged more Johnny Unitas than Justin Beiber. The result was not just a shorter haircut, but a curtain was drawn on a road map of a life lived. A life that was more visible. A life dotted with exclamations that revealed themselves as scars. Scars that served as not too distant memories. Memories that shaped our lives.

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Carson, still distraught from the haircut experience, moved to the bath. His brown hair washed off and gathered by the drain. Despite my best efforts to console him, he remained upset. I sat with him as he cried into my shoulder. My hands traced the recently revealed scar on his head, then the one on his back. A rush of memories raced over me. The hospital stays. Eating nonstop McDonalds because it was in the hospital. The driving to Louisville from Pensacola and being on the endless route 29 that leads to I-65. Lacey’s strength. Sleeping in a chair meant for a person of average height. The surgeon coming into the waiting room. And the overwhelming relief I felt when he said everything was okay. Then we did it again two months later.

The map of Carson’s scars tell the story of pain, anxiety, and emotions that I didn’t think existed. But more importantly, they tell a story of resilience and how fortunate Lacey and I are to have him.

The water splashing my face, brings me back. The emotional five year old smacking my arm also helped. The tragedy came back too. The sounds of updates on the news in the background, I grab my son and hold him a little too tight. I think about the parents. They too had scars. Their scars told stories and brought back a flood of memories. They comforted their emotional child after a haircut. I sympathized, as I’m sure every parent sympathized, because as different as we may be, the feelings of being a parent are universal.

I hate that their hands won’t trace the scars that I’m sure were so precious to them. I hate that they won’t feel a tug of their ear or an overly drooly kiss. I hate that they will never get to see those scars fade. I hate that they won’t get to see new scars that I’m sure would have told a story. I hate this evil so much.

But not for the next couple of days. Instead, I will mourn for the parents and pray that God gives them peace in the knowledge that heaven, like all places, is better off with a few more kids around.

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