Indian Summer Part 2

Indian Summer Part 2

Back to the Barn fundraiser last year, Casey McCarthy was on the camera and he compiled this great video and pics. Thanks Casey!


So……… are some random people this drunken mind remembered talking with.  Oh you didn’t know I was really drunk?  Oh I was hammered for about hour and a half,  but not by choice . It is really really hard to judge how much water/vodka to put in.  It doesn’t hit you the same going in your feeding tube.  And it's such a process that you wanna consume a lot at once cuz my trips back are few and far between.  Plus, this was the first fundraiser where my physical limitations are apparent.  I lost my wife/family in my initial entrance, so it was nerve-wracking when 300+ people stop to converse with you. You are alone and you can barely communicate.  I hated all the attention.  That’s where we circle back to the vodka :) and how I ‘drank’ too much.  It really turned out perfectly.  Most people commented how wobbly the ALS had made me.  I ran with it, for the first time I had an excuse as to why I was stumbling around.


So, bottom line, these stories are scattered and mostly about people that I don’t get to see much.


Michael Mckenna -  I couldn't believe my eyes.  This gem was in from Colorado where he was randomly training a good high school friend, Joey Szerszen.  Oh Mckenna.  I used to be afraid of this older frat brother.  He was always ‘too cool for school’, complaining about  seemingly everything and was a very good hazer (bad for us pledges).  That all changed Sophomore year during  Spring Break in South Padre Island when we roomed together.  I learned if I was overzealous about everything and enthusiastic in his face, he couldn’t help but laugh at my ‘annoying’ behavior.  We formed an awesome bond and I     got to see what a silly, funny and good guy he was.  From Day 1 in South Padre, he made it clear that his #1 goal wasn't to party or hook up with some co-ed hottie. Mckenna’s #1 goal was to see none other than Sir Mix A Lot perform.  We couldn’t stop singing Baby Got Back the rest of the trip. We twerked before twerking was cool.  When the time came, I was to meet Mckenna after I partied at Senor Frogs.  Well, underage drinking and a BS resisting arrest landed me in the slammer for the night (FYI…. Mom and Dad).  “Don’t mess with Texas,” the large tan , square headed officer shouted at me.  I finally get bailed out and back to Mckenna, told him about my disaster and all he cares about is Baby got Back.  Effing Mckenna.  So good to see him.


Pat Gilbert -  I noticed him across the way in his typical muscle shirt, showing off the guns.  It takes one to know one.  Figure if I spent the time getting guns and abs that you could cook your favorite eggs off of, I sure as hell was gonna show it off lol. Meat. Head. So I could relate . Pat is friends with my Uncle Mark Von and all the Von brothers.  I joined the ‘old men’ on a golfing trip in Biloxi about 5 yrs ago and hit it off with Pat.  He’s such a f%$#&@ cool guy.  Him and his brother Chuck are two of the world’s nicest guys.  Pat and his wife Carol have donated so so much to my fund.  There's been several occasions when my Dad has told me, out of the blue, Pat just dropped off checks for ridiculous amounts.  Pat’s up there on my list of “If I could drink one last beer with someone….”

Update 6/22 -  Pat and Chuck’s Mom regrettably passed away and in true Gilbert fashion, they told people to donate to my fund in honor of Mrs. Gilbert.  They raised a lot of money.  Thanks so much!


Ryan Triphan – Trip on; Trip off.  He was my college roommate for all 4 yrs at U of I.  I can't even describe what my adventure was like with him.  If you dont know him, don't even try to understand.  He taught me everything from stick-shift driving to patching up massive and many drywall holes to his famous chicken-corn-BBQ sauce dish.  We had lost touch a bit so it was so good to see him.  My favorite Trip story comes from a golfing trip to Vegas.  It was just Trip, me and all my Dad’s friends circa 2006.  Highly connected Billy Borgenson set us up with the VIP room at Ghost Bar where Boyz II Men was at the table next to us.  After about an hour, we were kicked out of our table by, then superstar, Tracy Mcgrady and his entourage.  I go back to get my Gin & Tonic from the table and just as I reach for it, Tracy kicks it off the table. I couldn't believe it.  Tracy himself. After some heated words that included my acknowledgment that Tracy and I had won the same amount of NBA playoff series,  I go to find Trip to jet out of there.  I turn around to see Trip on his knees  at the Boyz II Men table belting out the lyrics “Oh God give me the reason…I'm down on bended kneeeeee.” Oh Trip. Kid cracks me up.

     So on to Studio 54 we go, where Borgenson hooks it up again.  The line is out around 2 corners, about 1.5 hour wait.  But Trip and I get to go right in, and bring a guest each.  So we start at the back of the line and start sizing up every girl  “Ehh naw, moving on…” until we found the right 2 girls to go in with us, like we were really something.  It was one of the most superficial thing I’ve ever done and I can’t lie, it felt awesome for those few minutes - hahaha.  The night ended with some 6am Blackjack and Trip and I ‘falling asleep’ in our elevators,  Bloody Mary’s in hand.  We musta rode up n down for an hour before my Dad found us on the way to  breakfast.  Trip, I heart you.


Taylor Monroe Knapik -  It was so great to see Taylor and meet one of her girls.  One of my best friends “Since the 2nd day of 3rd grade”  (as we say since I was sick the 1st day).  For Halloween that year,  she came as a White Sox player, further cementing our friendship.  Then I found out her Dad was a former 1st Round pick of the Sox and a current executive.  Things couldn’t start much better.  Our families became really close as my Dad and her Dad coached basketball and baseball for our little brothers.  Through the years,  Taylor and I hung in the same close group of friends in grade school, junior high, high school and college, even as those friends changed.  We formed a strong bond, often giving advice on dating and life in general.  We had the best time growing up and she’s one of my very oldest friends.  In fact, we were shopping at Woodfield mall when she said her Mom set her up on a blind date that night.  Turned out to be her future husband, Rob, and he’s such a great dude.  Taylor, don’t ever forget, “Biwg Birwwd, allwww gowwne.”


Dustin Jensen -  This frat brother drives in from Peoria for all my events.  This past Christmas he used my fund as his family’s annual charity fundraiser.  They raised an incredible amount for me!  So much.  So generous.  I got a tip from college friend Kindra Lynch that a cool dude was joining our frat from the huge town of Chabanse.  On that whim I decided to play ‘Pledge Dad’ to Dustin.  An immediate connection was made.  I love the dude.  From crazy Acapulco nights to Sox games, DJ will always be a close friend.


Mike Mueller – It’s always good to see Muells and his MUCH better half Holly.  I still laugh at Holly pulling Shep’s chair out right before he sat down after the Bears NFC Championship game, culminating with Shep down for the count and throwing $500 all around the bar because he was so pissed.  Mueller and I were all set for a super-team, living together after college, toking up and watching Flight of the Conchords .  Two weekends deep into dominating the CHI party scene, I had my 1st of 3 ACL tears, putting a damper on the super-team.  I’ll probably get in trouble for telling this, but when has that stopped me before.  Here’s the PG-13 version.  My nights suck with a newly surgically repaired ACL.  I’m 23, stuck at home in prime going out time.  Mueller and I had often talked about partying in Boston, with those girls’ wicked cool accents.  Well I'm home sober watching a 2am movie when I hear Mueller come with some rando lady-friend.  I immediately recognize that voice – it was a Bawwwston girl.  Here’s where it gets funny.  She wants to hook up, except Mueller refuses until she says ‘Departed’ quotes in that wicked sexy voice.  So here I am, bedroom over, listening to this random girl recite seemingly the whole damn ‘Departed’ movie.  “Can we hook up yet?”  “No, do the elevator scene now!”  I heard the funniest shit as I was rolled up with that bum knee.


Uncle “Buck” Tom Von - The night of the fundraiser, he was in the hospital with some of the worst pains imaginable (we’ll just leave it at that!).  Him and Aunt Georgia were instrumental in coordinating a lot of the fundraising.  Still we all told him to stay in the hospital or go home.  There he was, barely able to walk and he says, “If you’re here with ALS, I can drag my fat ass here”. That was his exact quote to me.  Him and especially all my Chicago Von Aunts and Uncles have come to everything.  Uncle Dave and Aunt Kayla start their early Friday Happy Hour over here with me.  Uncle Mark and Aunt Rita have made some of the best meals ever for my parents.  My cousins Bill, Zach, Rachel and Lauren have all been great too.


Danny Gilhooly – Josh’s Conant friend and really awesome family friend.  Love that dude.  He always brings a ton of Conant kids to our fundraiser who are Josh’s age, most of whom barely know me.  Appreciate that so much.  Sorry for the ass grabbing :)


John Sloan -  He came to both the fundraiser and A Toast to Life.  Sloany has been a good friend since high school and it's always fun catching up with him. His Dad was our awesome football coach and a badass, just like John.  I learned a lot about showing no weaknesses from Coach Sloan.  Mind over matter.  He was also king of our pre-game ritual.  If you played football with me, click on the link.  It will take you back to being 17 years old John and I had some really, REALLY crazy and fun times together.  John also served in Iraq (God bless you); I still remember sending him nudey magazines and blue food-colored vodka disguised in large mouthwash bottles.  I couldn’t be more proud of the man he is today and to call him my friend.


Aunt Carole, Erin and Shelley – My Indiana relatives, they come to everything, driving 3+ hours.  They are really special people.  My Aunt Carole would give you the shirt off her back.  I’m just worried she might be combustible – a stout Republican who hates Trump, this could be a long 4 years :) Erin and I have had some special talks at my fundraiser.  She has worked hard going back to school to better her life.  And Shelley is so awesome, staying out with us after our wedding til 4 AM.  This Hoosier trio could be the face of perseverance amidst adversity.


Lisa Manning – My former client for a number of years, we hadn’t even met face-to-face when I was first diagnosed.  I don’t know how to explain it, but we just clicked on a deeper level.  Her and her husband Scott drive in from just outside STL to come to my fundraisers – unbelievable.  And congrats, after all these years of dominance, their Blues finally beat our Blackhawks.  Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in his life :) I visited her on our way to STL and she shared her vision board with me and I made an appearance.  I can't thank you enough for your support and friendship.


“Aunt” Susie and Kelly Bush – My Mom’s best friend Susie and her daughter Kelly.  Aunt Susie flies in from AZ for ALL of my fundraisers. She is so fun and sweet. As for Kelly, we all agree – she’s one of the funniest people on this planet!  Our childhoods were filled with Wisconsin Dells trips where Kelly coined the phrase “Tommie Fartlett,” so any time we passed those billboards,  we all chanted Tom-mie Fart-lett, Tom-mie Fart-lett!.  Real mature.  Though at least we were like 8, our parents were like 35 lol.  Then, we’d dine at Issshhhhnalas!  Where Kelly taught me a thing or two on how to video tape people in their most vulnerable positions. I’ll just leave it at that, since Kelly has a nice hair business now :).  Oh and on the rides down, Kel forced me to watch videos like this over and over again.  We had some of the funniest times w/ Aunt Susie and Kelly.  And we’ll never forget our birthday traditions.  We got to ‘drive’ on my Dad’s lap to McDonald’s where we ordered 9 of everything on the menu (if it was our 9th birthday) and drive past the window yelling, laughing, honking and speeding away.  The night was capped with a Chinese fire drill, running around the car while honking with onlookers staring.  I wish we had footage, but you get the idea, I can’t make this shit up!


Danny Miller - Danny is a good family friend. He and my brother Josh are the same age and grew up together. Each year, at our fundraiser, he volunteers to be the MC. He has a background in acting and entertainment and he does an amazing job! Everyone is always telling me afterwards how hilarious he was and it’s awesome to have him really make the night a blast for everyone. There’s one hilarious story I need to tell about the year we auctioned off a puppy. Danny’s wife, Claire, proclaimed early on in the night that she was winning the puppy. Danny was up on stage actually running the live auction, and Claire was relentless. Danny had recently bought a puppy for Claire as a surprise. Claire kept bidding higher and higher, and Danny kept trying to ignore her. When she was clearly going to be the highest bidder (even though Danny kept trying to ignore her), I’ll never forget Danny asking over and over again, “Is there ANYONE ELSE at all who wants to bid higher on this beautiful puppy? Going once... going twice…..SOOOLD (as he drops to his knees in agony and exhaustion).” Needless to say, Danny and Claire now have two dogs!


Cam Schwartzberg – What can I say about this personal inspiration?  With both of us having forms of muscular dystrophy, we met at an MDA event a few Augusts ago and immediately hit it off.  Cam and his parents, Kevin and Elisha, are one of the most fun and engaging families out there.  Cam and I have both been there for each other and he’s become a younger brother to me.  Cam visited me in the ICU and at RIC multiple times. Then at the “A Toast to Life” event, Cam surprised me with an awesome sign when I came in. Perfect timing as I was nervous, being my 1st public appearance since ICU/RIC and my trache surgery.  Cam, you’re in my prayers every night, and anything you need from me ever, just let me know.


Musto’s - We're thick as thieves with the Mustos,  my Dad's sister's family . They always donate a new puppy for the fundraisers . They are the best dogs. Uncle Musto breeds them so well . He loves it .  Aunt Anne and Uncle David drove in for the fundraiser last year and brought with them one of their pregnant dogs.  It just so happened that the dog had the puppies the night before the event when they arrived in Chicago.  I can still hear Uncle David's voice saying "COME ON BABY, YOU CAN DO IT”.  Cut to the night of the fundraiser and here is “The Dog Whisperer” David running back and forth (drink in hand) to check on the tiny pups and their Mom.  I am happy to report that all the pups were born healthy and had owners anxiously awaiting them in the months that followed.  Uncle Musto also biked 60 miles for me!  

Some other fun and random observations about this wonderful family . . . Uncle David always picking us up with a "coffee" in his cup holder. Getting  literally $50 worth of quarters to play video games  when I was little from him and Dad so they could drink more at the bar and avoid going back to their wives [not like the wives were complaining].It came full circle years later,  when  Uncle Musto and I made a tradition of staying up later than anyone playing the drinking game 'Quarters.' We took a shot of beer every time we lost . I must admit  he pretty much kicked my ass, and so I got fairly drunk most times .  One memorable time,  I was woo'ing a girl,  just started talking to her weeks before . We thought it would be a good idea to take a shirtless pic holding two new puppies  up,  and then leave this girl an incoherent 3 am voice mail . I wonder what happened to that girl?  Oh yeah that was Lindsay! (this is where the pic would be perfect , but I can’t find the damn thing ! ) "Annies Fannies" and her famous zitti, which literally fed an army of us over new years.  The Girls love for all things Disney, especially singing classic movie songs in perfect harmony, always interrupting my sports.  Tailgating at Notre Dame Football games with a spit circle lol [Cliff!]. Uncle  Blotto,  Aunt Otis [I'm in deep shit ],  Amanda, Michie and Sammie will always have a special place in my heart . I couldn’t be more proud of the women that all the girls grew up to be .  We  have the best of times,  and since we don't see them often, it's always the biggest anticipation when we're going to see them .


Jordan Bossler – Jordan had her daughter, Kate’s, birthday party, so she couldn’t make it, but, as always, she was there in spirit from Savannah.  Few friends have gone more out of the way to be there for Linds and I more than Jordan.  We met around 2009 at a business retreat while she was pregnant with her 2nd kid.  I learned she was from Illinois, and after some Sox/Cubs banter, it started a great friendship, which included reciting full episodes of “The Office.”  We reconnected at a class at Notre Dame, shortly before my diagnosis.  She has come to visit me several times, always checks in and has donated so, so much.  She’s faced many daunting tragedies and her perseverance amidst adversity has had a tremendous impact on how I have lived my life through my own adversity.  We love you Jordan.


This is a tribute to one of my oldest and best friends,  Jeff Jesernik.  Cheers to you Jezzy (I dont think hes gonna like it)

Amidst the funny stories,  I can't believe all the people that have been there for me these last months since the Intensive Care Unit stay.  My employer, Mesirow Financial, has taken care of me better than any company I could ever imagine.  Seriously, I can’t begin to tell you how much Mesirow has done for me and ALS.  Both my department and corporately.  CEO Richard Price and (what many think could be the future CEO of Mesirow) Marty Kaplan personally paid for my wheelchair lift up the stairs so I can use the main bathroom and also hang out with family and visitors.  We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars.  Unreal. Mesirow has also donated thousands and thousands to ALS research.  And it's not just the money.  We would be thrilled with strictly financial support.  But it’s the time and energy displayed by so many that makes Mesirow such an amazing family.  Senior Managing Director Michael Markowitz and Executive Kelli Caudill became active board members for MDA’s Annual gala, “A Toast to Life.”  Katie Seeman has been incredible with her support and coordination with all things Mesirow.  Also a shout out to Ryan Schnoor.  He’s been to basically everything, I still miss our oblique/abs workouts!


A special thanks to Sarah Coleman for the aforementioned “A Toast to Life.”  It was another outstanding event.  Aside from Michael  Markowitz and Kelli Caudill, thanks to Sean Moran, Rob Sheppard and Bobby & Julie Orozco for their expanded roles for the event.  Especially Shep, who got so many people to go, including some faces I haven't seen in a long time. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my lovely wife, Lindsay.  She gave a heartfelt speech, and she did it with such grace and poise; she’s a natural in public speaking. If I find a copy, I’ll post immediately.


Also a big shoutout to the Stilling family and Schaumburg High for bestowing their Distinguished Alumni Award upon me.  It was really special as my family and friends all came, unbeknownst to me!  My brother Josh nailed the speech! Here it is if you haven’t seen it. Coach Stilling also made the wall by the sports fields’ entrance the “Fight Like a Champion” Wall.  Here's a pic , AWESOME!!!!


So you ask - how am I doing?  Still doing fine, but it's amazing how much the disease has progressed, even in the months since I got home from the RIC.  I will say, the breathing is so much easier on a ventilator vs. before my trache surgery when I was breathing on my own. Pass that info to anyone considering a trache.  I used to take roughly 4 xanax/day because I would get massive panic attacks from hardly being able to breath.  I take no meds for anxiety now.  You gotta look for the positives and the trache surgery was a blessing in disguise.


After a little vetting, our Independence Plus  24/7 Nursing staff has been great. Carli does an amazingly tough job of staffing all of the nurses.  We have an incredible group here, some of whom you've seen out and about. I know I couldn’t survive without these outstanding nurses.  The two that work the most are Dereck and Cathy. They are truly special people and are as much a part of the family as anyone. Newcomer Kristin is quickly becoming part of the fam. Other notables are Tara, Fatai, Ashley,  Izolda, Melanie, Jan, Bozena and Muriel. You get really close to your caregivers.  You literally trust them with your life . I am so lucky to have them all . Having a huge man crush on Paul Rudd, we recently watched the Netflix original "The Fundamentals of Caring.” Such a great movie. I recommend it to all .


Very few people see the nasty  side of ALS and the vulnerable situations in which it puts its patients.  Urinating in a handheld urinal, often in public view, held by a stranger staring at your penis.  At 33 years old, having nurses wipe your anus and apply cream because you have constant rashes from sitting in a chair all day.  Nurses sticking suppositories up your backside, and washing you and cleaning your testicles.  You feel violated and a little insecure.  You can’t have much romance with your wife.  Hell, you can't even move your head off the pillow.  At bedtime last month, the channel was changed inadvertently.  The ensuing 10 min struggle of agony to try and communicate that all I wanted was to simply change the channel back is something no couple should go through.  And its just gonna get terribly worse and worse. Then there’s the whole bathroom experience.  It’s shaky getting from the chair to the toilet seat.  When you gotta go, the last thing you want is a wobbly, bowel-inducing waddle to the seat.  Best case scenario, I get to unload in front of the nurses and any others nearby.  Worst case, which happened 2 times, you don’t quite make it in time. Then, recently, I had to have multiple enemas. Like most people my age, my entire previous experience with enemas was buying the BLINK 182 CD “Enema of the State.”  Why am I telling all these gross, embarrassing things in my life?  Because I’d guess patients don’t openly or willingly discuss these details accompanying these types of dreadful diseases.  But by being raw and risking embarrassment, I hope it helps raise  awareness to how debilitating these diseases are - physically, mentally and emotionally.


And I have it  better than many other ALS patients.  The nurses take care of all my physical and medical needs, while my parents are there for me emotionally.  They also take care of scheduling and driving me to all my doc appts - which usually take 5-8 hrs, opening all my daily Amazon shipments and mail, and handling all that’s involved in planning my fundraiser (along with Josh, Sara, Mel and others).  I  hear the blender in my sleep because dad has to blend my smoothies so often. My mom has perfected all the complications that go into the eye gaze maintenance.  They're such great parents.  I can't imagine what life’s like without them. Then Lindsay comes every weekend and 1-2 days during the week . I see Sara at least 3X a week after work which is nice because we used to live so far from each other. Then, Josh and Mel come usually 2 days / week .  It's a mad race when he comes ... He knows there's a day full of tech stuff he has to do for me. And, I'll be damned he gets it all done!    


But I now have thoughts of diapers, not being able to type and being dragged to and from my wheelchair.  These thoughts are at the forefront of my mind.  I also have dreams.  The most common - nearly every night - is me going on a food binge.  Lou Malnati’s, Portillo's, Village Tavern, Culver's cheese curds, Taco Bell  (I want one last drunk taco supreme), fried chicken from anywhere and brownie sundaes that would make Mrs. Schuman spin (she always hooked us up with gigantic brownie sundaes in the cafeteria).  That reminds me of Adam Sandler’s Sloppy Joe skit  Was that really 22 years ago?  Whatever happened to that Adam Sandler guy?  He was so funny.  Back to my dream.  It’s torture.  I never get full in my dreams as I dart from one food chain to the next.  Arby’s to KFC to all-you-can eat Pizza Hut buffet and Frankly Yours.  Danny Schu remembers the high school lunch rotation.


Except now, in my dreams, I get about 1/100th of the taste and I wake up wishing i was still dreaming.  Reminds me of the myth (or is it a myth?!) that sneezing is about 1/100th of the feeling of...well you know what…


Joking aside, not tasting food (or really anything except the nasty taste of a left out yankauer suction) is the 2nd toughest mental challenge I’ve been through.  The first is the juxtaposition I find myself in.  As it progresses and gets worse, the more I need to communicate and the less I can actually communicate.  It strikes me as a particularly cruel way to kill a person.


Don't let me fool you, I’m still having a hella good time. I’m still obsessed with sports, but I've ventured more into movies and TV shows.  Music has become even more powerful.  And I've gotten into world affairs, which of course includes some politics. Is “Kill Me” an option on the presidential ballot? Sometimes I feel so damn lazy.  My competitive motor is used to running at 500 mph no matter what I did…. good and bad.  Now I’m resigned to sports, sports pools and fantasy football.  And of course I compete at that little thing called life.  I fight so hard. I really do. Eat as much as I can.  I've gained weight.  Use my cough assist and nebulizers as much as possible.  A rigorous oral care routine. Physical therapy 2X/week. An hour a day in addition to stretching.  I wear my finger extenders religiously during the day, then my hand splints when I'm sleeping.  This keeps my fingers from indefinitely curling up and is the only reason I can  type at all.  I've been told by multiple nurses that I have the best attitude of  any of their patients.  Now I'm training to communicate with my eyes and using eyelid crutches to lift my eyelids so the camera can read my pupils.  My eyes dry out and typing with your eyes can give you a gnarly headache.  


But you gotta get past your sometimes murky surroundings that can frustrate and drive you to ask “ why me”?  You gotta get past the scorn that we all feel towards some things in our lives.  Look beyond your failures. Remember what the core of life is - your relationships; all the rest is minutia (CM). All you need is a twinkle in your eye to brighten someone's day. Being able to smile is a bonus you shouldn't take for granted. Maybe there's a reason I got this.  To spare some poor sap from an unbearable depression. Cuz bottom line, my life is still great.  I love seeing my wife smile, love laughing, love feeling my heart beating, love how my dog nuzzles in between my calves - one of the only ways i can touch her.  But most importantly I love knowing those feelings will remain when my two pupils are the only things that move.  That is my essence, and I speak with more clarity now than ever.  I can't talk, I can't walk, I can't eat, I can’t breath, I can't spit or swallow (no jokes) and I can barely move or type. I am constantly uncomfortable. What better way to test one’s true love of life than to take away all those seemingly vital necessities and then judge a man.  I'm a numbers guy.  In March 2016, the world’s population was estimated at 7.4 billion people.  Only 321 million people (4.3%) reside here in the greatest country of all.  Take out all the developing countries, the suppressed areas full of violence, the thousands of miles where there's no freedom of speech. Take out the millions of people that don't know where their next meal is coming from. Take out about half of the rest of the world because I’m blessed to have it good.  I’m telling you, I must be in the world’s  85th percentile in terms of the ‘Best Lives’ club. Think about that. All my impairments. I can barely communicate.  To say I’m a shell of my former physical self is the understatement of the century. And I’d estimate that I’m still blessed enough to have a better life than 85% of the world, or 6.29 billion people.  Flippin’ amazing. And I feel the love from all of you, which is so vital to my  existence. And on nights like tonight, I feel like the luckiest man on the face of the earth.  Ask yourself, how lucky are YOU?


I'll leave you with this story. Last week on my mom's birthday, coming home from the Bears game, I sat there in deep thought. I just had an incredible night with my whole family.  We all surprised my mom with 10 Bears tickets and somehow I wanted more.  And this had nothing to do with how much the Bears suck. Every joy comes with a hint of bitterness. Lindsay was on her A game. It was like the first period of dating her. Back when I was healthy, when we ruled the world. Every date had more energy than the previous. We were a modern day Bonnie and Clyde, save for the hideous crimes. I remember one summer Sunday at a brunch bar where we had the most hilarious conversation I've ever had -  it was of course about what the olives in our bloody mary's looked like. Which led to playfully tossing olives at each other, including me conspicuously tossing one across the restaurant at her. We couldn’t stop laughing.  Ten minutes later, I look up at  Sox game and yell to the player to "Get Down " on his slide,  only to turn  and see Lindsay literally getting down crouching under our table, Cold War bomb drill style. I almost peed I was laughing so hard. It was moments like these that I was remembering on the way home from the Bears game,  listening to Everlong by Foo Fighters, remembering how much that song blasted in my ears a week before taking a random limo to SummerFest on a work night on one of our first really fun dates.  Of course Jen Leskis was involved. I asked God playfully why did you do this to me?  Don't you know Lindsay and I were going to have the most fun, easy and faithful marriage known to mankind?  We truly brought the best out of each other. This was really F-ing cruel.  A few songs went by as I joked with God about what nude beach paradise he had for me as retribution. Next thing you know, Mick Jagger was belting out on the radio "You can't Always Get What You Want…."  Ain't that the truth, I figuratively quipped . But as the chorus went on, something clicked. Maybe we all should be a little less selfish and a little more grateful about how lucky we are to have what we have.  Maybe this was all I really needed from life. An amazing wife, the greatest of friends and the best family a guy could ever ask for.  Life was good.  "….But if you try sometimes, You just might find, You get what you neeeed …."