In December of 2001, Jacob was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. To this day I can remember sitting in my cubicle at work and trying to comprehend exactly what this news meant. As Julie talked through tears, she began explaining that Jake would begin a life of medicines and breathing treatments. To this day, I regret that I wasnÁ¢€â„¢t there with her when the doctor gave the news. I guess we both believed that he was fine. This kind of thing just doesnÁ¢€â„¢t happen to us. Right. I eventually joined her at home that afternoon and we walked around the house, numb, taking phone calls from friends, calling others and trying to keep from crying. At first, with all of the information you gather on the Internet and from what the doctors tell you, it feels like theyÁ¢€â„¢ve just handed you child a death sentence. The next few weeks, as we began giving his medicines and doing his treatments, the two of us were zombies. Each year in December, weÁ¢€â„¢re both kind of in a state. While we should be celebrating the Christmas holidays, there is this other anniversary that is always looming.
As you all recall the winter of 2001 was one of great sorrow and fear. Still recovering from the 9/11 attacks, people were looking for hope that the world wasnÁ¢€â„¢t going to fall apart. Around that time, the Dave Matthews Band released the title track from their album, Á¢€Å“EverydayÁ¢€, and it immediately began getting heavy rotation on MTV and VH1Á¢€¦ that is, heavy rotation when those channels actually played music videos, which was usually around 12 or 1 in the morning. Just like I did with Sophie, I got restless when Jake was born and stayed up WAY too late most nights. I had a great deal on my mind, obviously. I hate to admit that I wasnÁ¢€â„¢t as mature as IÁ¢€â„¢d have liked to have been. I was worried about my feature movie and how JakeÁ¢€â„¢s medicines and treatments would affect our livelihood. ThatÁ¢€â„¢s something I donÁ¢€â„¢t talk about much because I feel like it makes me shallow. When youÁ¢€â„¢re kidÁ¢€â„¢s life is at stake, you shouldnÁ¢€â„¢t worry about the money, right? And you sure as hell shouldnÁ¢€â„¢t be worrying about your damn film career. My head wasnÁ¢€â„¢t on straight. I wish I could go back and shake the older Malchus and tell him to wake up. It took me almost 15 years to feel like I am a good husband. Luckily, it hasnÁ¢€â„¢t taken me that long to feel like a good parent.
I bring up all of these feelings because during those late hours, Jake would usually wake up. And I would grab him and try to ease him back to sleep. And during those wee hours, as I bounced him around the living room, IÁ¢€â„¢d generally switch between Sportscenter and VH1. Thus, I saw and heard Á¢€Å“EverydayÁ¢€ many, many times during that winter. I am not a big Dave Matthews fan. I have a single cd of their hits, and thatÁ¢€â„¢s enough for me. But this one song is special to my heart. Walking around with Jake, our first intimate moments as father and son, were very special to me. Holding his tiny body in my hands, IÁ¢€â„¢d stare at him, wondering how such a perfect little person could have something wrong inside of him. It didnÁ¢€â„¢t make sense.
It still doesnÁ¢€â„¢t.
Thankfully, I grew attached to that Dave Matthews song, which has simple, hopeful lyrics that pretty much repeat themselves.
Pick me up, oh, from the bottom
Up to the top, love, everyday
Pay no mind to taunts or advances
I take my chances on everyday
Left to right
Up and down, love
I push up love, love everyday
Jump in the mud, oh
Get your hands dirty with
Love it up on everyday
All you need is
All you want is
All you need is love.
All you need is
What you want is
All you need is love.
ThatÁ¢€â„¢s it, folks. But thatÁ¢€â„¢s all I really needed back then to give me the hope I needed to keep facing another morning. About a year later, as I was approaching my first marathon, I had programmed this song into my cheap little Rio MP3 player. I canÁ¢€â„¢t tell you how many mornings Á‹” was out on the pavement, struggling to make it those extra hundred yards or so and Á¢€Å“EverydayÁ¢€ word suddenly start playing through the headphones. Immediately, I thought of Jake. I thought of those cold, pitch black December nights. And I thought of the hope I had for him and why I was actually running the marathon.
Hope is a funny thing. It comes from the least expected places and generally shocks you out of a somnambulist state. This week, some unexpected friends gave me new hope for finding a cure to CF. IÁ¢€â„¢d like to dedicate this weekÁ¢€â„¢s basement song to my pal, Jeff Giles, for organizing the Bloggers for Cure. If ever there was someone Á¢€Å“pushing loveÁ¢€, as Matthews says, itÁ¢€â„¢s this guy. Thank you, Jeff.