I’m Still Growing Up

So my 20 year high school reunion is in a week. There are ice breaker events, the reunion and post reunion picnics and such planned for the whole weekend. I’ve been a part of the reunion committee and have played a, probably-not-so-insignificant, part in getting classmates interested in the reunion. Way-back in May I started the Voices of ’93 Podcast. Twice a week I’ve been interviewing my classmates from San Dieguito Class of ’93 and posting them on the internet for everyone to hear.

It’s been a lot of fun, a lot of work, and a real labor of love. It’s also been one of the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done.

Now, for those who know me – and those who’ve listened to my podcast – my difficulties in my youth are well documented. Early alcoholism and drug use, early sexual experiences that could be constituted as rape though the perception is “you’re a dude so it can’t be” stuff, crazy parental units from polar opposite worlds, school administration fuck ups, bad relationships, insecurities, terrified of women and commitments, bad grades, worse teachers… the list goes on and on…. you get the point. The fact of the matter is… while the memories of high school have faded over time, many of the emotional attachments I made to those memories have not.

When the details of memory fade all that we are left with, often times, is the vague impression of our emotional response to those memories. I might not remember the specifics of being a self-imposed exile in high school, but my feelings about that time have remained. No matter how little I can explain to you about my moment to moment experiences from that time of my life I have always been able to tell you I felt alone, neglected, ridiculed, small and scared.

The podcast, and the over 30 hours of interviews I’ve produced on it, has somehow been a form of therapy for me and the residual emotional baggage I’ve carried with me into adulthood from high school.

You see, what I’ve found for me, the more I have opened up and shared with the class… the more I’ve heard them open up as well… the more I’ve come to realize that nearly all of the bullshit I lived through in those years was also experienced, in their own ways, by my classmates. So many of us dealt with drug-dealing parents, rape, feelings of inadequacy and ridicule, a sense of not fitting-in (yes, even in the so-called “popular kids”), neglect, school issues and more. I was never truly alone in the things I experienced. There was nothing truly unique in my hardships. We were all experiencing our own personal hardships through that time. And for many the outward appearances of being completely together was just a facade. One that apparently I was also able to outwardly convince people I had as well. Torrey Nommesen, a theater friend of mine from San Dieguito, said that he always thought that I was completely together. That I was always “in the know” and involved and composed. He never got the sense that I was batshit fucking terrified of the world. I had them all fooled!

And there lies the truth of the matter. Everyone had everyone else fooled. No one has their shit together in high school. And no one really has their shit together as an adult. We are all still “making it up as we go along.” The difference is, most of us don’t hide that fact anymore. We embrace it. Like adults. There’s no roadmap for life. There’s no right or wrong way to approach your existence. You figure it out. You do what works for you.

The difficulty of high school for me was that I never understood how “not alone” I really was in the world. That if I had just reached out and learned more about the people I spent every day of my life with I would have understood that the things I was so scared about were the same things they were scared about. That we weren’t all alone in our search for meaning, compassion, understanding… We were not alone.

And just knowing that one little thing, 20 years later. Well that has done wonders for my memories. Yes, the podcast has helped me remember some details better, but what it has really done for me is remove the dark veil of bitterness and resentment that had clouded those memories for years. That’s right. I’m no longer able to look back on my own memories of high school and feel bad about it. Yes, bad things happened to me. But bad things happened to all of us. The school wasn’t out to get me. My teachers that were bad to me, were bad to everyone. It wasn’t about me. The students who made me uncomfortable or were mean… they were probably as messed up and confused as I was. I certainly did my part to contribute to being mean and cruel on occasion. It wasn’t that I was mean or cruel… I was just hurting and lashing out. I can’t be angry and unforgiving of those who did the same and also hope that I can be forgiven by the one’s I did it to as well. I want forgiveness… I also have to forgive.

Liberating. The whole experience, which terrified me to start, has turned into an incredibly liberating one. I am a different person because of this podcast. I am a better person because of the podcast. And I thank my classmates for participating, for listening and for being the amazing people they all are. May you all find your joy and successes in life. I will keep doing the podcast after the reunion, for as long as my classmates want to keep participating.

I’m looking forward to August 17th. The reunion will be a whirlwind of activity and then it will be gone. Yet one more emotional memory to file away with the rest. But what a personal library I’ve built. I can’t wait to continue adding chapters and rewriting history. The story of my life just gets more interesting.

Until next time, you all take care… and we’ll talk soon.

Doctor Who

I had an absolute blast at the Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One, in L.A. this past weekend.

It was so much fun to spend three days getting my geek on with all the nerds. I also had the pleasure of sharing the experience with members of my family.

Embrace your inner nerd, don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong to wear your fandom on your sleeve. (Or really as a full outfit!)

Learning to fly

Life's an adventure!

Life’s an adventure!

So, I’m quickly coming up on the 1st anniversary of my job as Director of Operations at LifeApps. It’s been an interesting year. I’ve helped produce two outstanding digital magazines, produced a very robust fitness app and we are about to push out our first ever retail product in the golf world.

It’s fascinating how much I’ve done in the past year. And it’s fascinating to me that I am even in a position to do all of this. My boss has really put a lot of faith in me, and I am very appreciative of that. The opportunities I am having right now are not “the norm” for someone who dropped out of college and spent most of his adult life avoiding the 9-5 office workplace.

Hopefully we will see a lot of success in 2013. I know I will certainly be giving it my best!

Oh and if anyone is attending the PGA show in Orlando in a couple of weeks, come see me at the LifeApps Core Grip booth, #585!

5 Years

My Dad and I Always Had a Great Time Together

My Dad and I Always Had a Great Time Together

Half a decade has now passed since my father, Mick Dawson, the greatest man that ever lived…died.

I’ve written something on the anniversary of his death every year since he passed away. I had intended to do the same this year, but for some reason I could not bring myself to write on the anniversary this year. So here I sit, a few days over a week later, finally writing something.

I think it is safe to say that anyone who knows me already knows my feelings about my Dad. He was my best friend, my business partner, my confidant, my protector and my biggest champion. His loss is still felt by me to this very day.

So why didn’t I motivate myself to write about him on August 27, 2012? Just like I’d done on all the previous August 27s?

I think the answer to that comes from our friend Newave. He texted me the morning of the 27th this year and said he was thinking about my Dad and wanted to celebrate him. He then texted that he’d really like me to send him Dad’s birthday information, because he’d rather celebrate him on a day “other” than the anniversary of when we lost him.

On a day “other” than that one.

It was a very interesting thought. And it definitely got me thinking. Why do I write about Dad on the anniversary of losing him? Why don’t I write about him on his birthday? Or on Father’s day? Hell, for that matter, why don’t I write about him during Surf Cup, or New Year’s?

Suddenly it made perfect sense to me… half a decade later. I don’t need to “mourn” any longer. The shattered pieces of the life I was leading when he died have been picked up. The puzzle reassembled and reshaped into something different. His memory and his teachings have helped me do the repair work. He’s still with me, since he is and always will be an essential part of my make up. And his memory, his teachings and the love I have for him are present everyday.

So I’m done mourning on an annual basis. There is no longer a mandatory day of grief for me. I have moved past the grief, I have moved past the loss. I am becoming the man I was always meant to become in the wake of his death.

My Dad taught me that it is OK to grieve. That taking possession of your feelings is important and that it is healthy. He taught me that holding things in and trying to hide from pain and from sorrow only makes those feelings grow and distort themselves into other, often worse emotions and actions.

I have grieved over my Dad’s passing. I have cried. I have wailed to the heavens. I have blamed God for being unfair. I have stared at the stars and wondered if an after life even does exist. I have felt lost, alone, abandoned and uncontrollably sad.

The roller coaster of grief is a hard ride. But I’ve successfully ridden it. I am not sure when, exactly, I got off of that ride. But I find myself now on the boardwalk outside the ride… looking at the world around me. I am ready to take the lessons I learned from my Dad and make my peace with the world. To rise up to new challenges and new adventures and to know that in all that I do I carry my Father’s legacy with me. It’s comforting, and it’s reassuring… and I’m never going to be sad about that.

A Long Weekend Behind, A Long Long Road Ahead

It’s now been four days since my Mother was rushed to the hospital.

My sisters and I have done our best to keep everyone updated on her situation and her progress through Facebook and text messages. Unfortunately those mediums are not the best way to convey complicated and emotionally difficult events in a manner that provides a full picture of the situation.

My hope with this entry on my blog is to provide some much needed clarity of the severity of Mom’s situation for those who have misinterpreted posts that state that Mom has made “good progress” or has had “positive developments” over the past few days.

To be clear as can be:

My Mother is on Life Support. She is living off of machines and medications. When we have stated that she is making progress it is always with the caveat that the progress she is making is small progress and that she is still very, very sick. But when the situation is as severe as this, small victories mean everything.

So here’s a basic rundown of what has happened so far.

  • Friday afternoon
  • Mom seriously bites her tongue in her sleep
  • She calls out to Theresa for help, Jesse hears her from his room and fetches Theresa
  • By the time Theresa enters Mom’s room she has rolled off of her bed and is covered in blood and unconscious
  • Theresa is barely able to revive her and calls the paramedics
  • Paramedics arrive and take Mom to the ER at Tri-City
  • When Mom arrives at Tri-City they are having extreme difficulty finding a pulse, reading a blood pressure and her temperature is extremely low
  • The bleeding from her mouth has stopped, but she is hacking up blood and sputum and is having a very hard time breathing
  • The next hour or two is a bit of a blur for me but basically they ran a central line to get accurate BP measurements from within her heart, they intubated her to help her breath (that’s putting her on the breathing machine or life support system), and they ran many many blood tests.
  • Verdict of tests was that she was in Sepsis Shock (infection in her blood) and had double pneumonia (that’s pneumonia in both lungs) that covered both upper and lower quadrants in both lungs (basically she was 100% infected with pneumonia).
  • The doctors were having a hard time getting her vitals to stabilize and they eventually moved her out of the ER and into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
  • Friday night was touch and go. After they managed to get her BP up with meds and after they had pumped her full of fluids (she was severely dehydrated when she came in) her temperature shot to 102.9 and they spent the night trying to get her temperature down and continued to have trouble maintaining her blood pressure.
  • Because of Mom’s infections she is getting a cocktail of three extremely strong antibiotics that I don’t recall the names of.
  • Saturday
  • With the assistance of blood pressure medications they were able to relatively stabilize her BP though it was on average very low.
  • Fear of organ failures are high as Saturday begins. Kidney’s aren’t functioning great. She gets meds for her kidneys.
  • Eventually her temperature began to come down.
  • The breathing machine was set at an Oxidation level around 75%. (Very high because her lungs were having a hard time processing the oxygen they were pumping into them.)
  • Mom was rarely conscious through the day.
  • Generally she will remain sedated throughout the time that she has a tube in her mouth. They do allow her moments of less sedation so that they can assess her brain function.
  • The majority of Saturday was spent watching numbers going up and down all day.
  • Mom was also given an Iron drip and a pint of blood as she was low.
  • Sunday
  • Mom made some progress by maintaining a good temperature all day.
  • By evening they were attempting to remove 2 of the blood pressure meds she was on.
  • By 10pm they had her off all three meds
  • They began lowering her oxygen levels slightly through out the night.
  • They began pushing a “milkshake” concoction through a feeding tube that she also has jammed down her throat with the breathing tube.
  • They kept Mom slightly less sedated throughout the day.
  • While nice to get responses from her it was terribly difficult to see her grow more and more uncomfortable with her situation as the day progressed.
  • She answered questions and recognized voices around her.
  • Monday
  • Temperature has risen to just below 100 degrees Farenheit.
  • BP med (Levo) has been administered off-and-on again all day long depending on her body’s ability to maintain it on its own.
  • She continues to cough up serious amounts of muck from her lungs through the breathing tube.
  • Her coughing fits are terrible to watch.
  • She has been less responsive today as they’ve kept her sedation level higher to keep her resting since she is too restless when they let her have some awareness.
  • Nurses emphasize to Theresa, Laura and I that she has made some good strides in the right direction but she is still on life support and that her recovery is not a guarantee.
  • Four days in and we are basically still going hour-by-hour with her.
  • Trying to revive her to check brain function was much more difficult this evening. So much so that I began to panic right up until I finally told her I was going home.
  • That news seemed to reach her and she suddenly “came alive” as she tried to get me to stay. She attempted to open her eyes and she reached out for me. (Well as much as her strapped to the bed hands could reach out for me.)
  • That was the only real response from her to anything we said or presented to her today.

I am certain that I am leaving something out. But this gives you a good idea of what we are going through. If she had not bit her tongue so badly on Friday it is very likely she would have died in her bed by Friday night.

Mom is on Life Support. She is surrounded by the best nurses I’ve ever encountered. Special thank you to the Tri-City Medial team. Fromt he ER to the ICU they have done an outstanding job of being compassionate with us and extremely nice to my unconscious mother.

I am going to try and sleep now. It was a tremendously long weekend and I have a lot more hardship ahead. I won’t rest well until Mom is off the life support machines and is breathing and maintain her BP on her own. Neither of those things are going to happen, to the best of my knowledge, until the signes of pneumonia have been cured from her lungs and that the infection in her blood has been eliminated.

Mom may be on the life support system for a few days, or a few weeks. That’s the hardest part of everything right now. Everything is a question mark. She may get better, she may crash and get worse. Even die. It’s a waiting game right now as we await her body and the medications battling it out with the infections.

Peace, Love and Laughter – May you share your love with your loved ones while you can.

David

Watching the little ones grow…

Sean at 2.

Sean at 2.

Sean turned 2 a couple of weeks ago.

TWO! Seriously. Where did the time go?

When 2012 began he had a 20 word vocabulary. Mostly numbers. Though, admittedly, he couldn’t seem to grasp the number 4 at all.

Flash forward two months. The young one suddenly starts saying the number 4 correctly. In fact, he’s able to count all the way up to 19 with no trouble or assistance. He’s also grown his vocabulary to probably a couple hundred words. And not in that parrot way, where he just re-says whatever you do. No, he actually KNOWS things. He knows all his basic colors. He knows what a fox is, he knows what a rock is… and many other things that he is more than happy to point out to you. Usually with a big smile as he waits to see your astonishment at how clever he is.

And astonished I am. I can’t believe how fast he’s come in just a month and a half or so. He is putting together complex thoughts even. I had him on my shoulders at Disneyland the other day. He leaned down to look me in the eye and he said, “Down and walk!” Amazing. He was just two days past his second birthday at that point.

It is so much fun watching my nephews grow and mature. They are all so different. Their personalities, their inflections, their intelligence is unique from one to the next. They share a similar gene pool, a similar upbringing, but already you can see the differences in them. Each one is a unique individual in and of them self. I love being a part of their lives and am thankful that I have had the chance to do so.

Especially since I’m not likely to have a child of my own.

Theresa and Bryan are starting to talk about their second child. They might start trying sometime this year. They are hoping for a girl. Can you imagine? A girl in this family after 4 straight boys? She’ll be a princess all right. And with as unique and amazing as each of the boys are, I can only begin to imagine what a single girl in the family would be like. And I’m sure she’ll be exceptional if she ever comes.

A Garage Full of Memories

Theresa, Laura, Bryan and I spent the day going through our overly stuffed storage unit with our friend Missy and Bryan’s cousin Rick. Due to a maintenance upgrade of our storage facility we were required to clear out the unit up to 8′ in from the door. Well that naturally meant we would have to clear a vast majority of the unit out for the maintenance crew (they are installing new roll-up doors). So, after 4.5 years, we decided it was time to finally sort through all the boxes of “stuff™” that we threw into storage after we packed up Dad’s apartment when he died.

This is good. It’s something we’ve needed to do for a very long time, but somehow just never felt up for the emotional and physical challenges of actually doing it. Now we had a legitimate kick in the ass to step up and move and throw stuff away.

We all agreed on heading down the storage at 9 am. We knew that the task would take all day. Afterall, Dad’s boxes alone were stacked front of the garage to the back of the garage – floor to ceiling and about 2/3 of the unit sidewall to sidewall. It was a lot of stuff. The unit also had a bunch of Dawson Digital gear, my storage, Mom’s storage and some of Theresa and Bryan’s storage. Oh! There were a few items of Alyssa’s and even Missy’s umbrella in there too.

I was worried the day was off on the wrong foot when we didn’t even leave the apartment in Vista until well after 9:15. And we still had to drop Sean off with Adam at Laura’s house and pick her up! We eventually go to the storage unit just before 10 am. Nearly an entire hour later than Theresa and I had hoped to start. “Not good,” I thought to myself.

As the door opened and Theresa, Laura, Missy and I (Bryan was a little behind us because he had to get Mom breakfast) stood there looking at the incredibly daunting mountain of cardboard boxes, baby furniture, computer junk and more… I felt myself starting to be overwhelmed. Panic was starting to push in.

But one deep breath and a “here we go” and the four of us just started pulling crap out of the garage and immediately started sorting into piles in the parking lot of “Stuff to keep,” “Stuff to Donate,” “Trash” and stuff to “Really sort through.”

We worked straight through to 4 pm. A full six hours in which we only ALL stopped once. For 15 minutes we all stopped to have lunch. That was the one and only work stoppage of the entire 6 hour day in that garage.

Dad's Journeys to Asia

Dad’s Journeys to Asia

It wasn’t easy but we managed to go through it all. Turns out, half of the stuff we had called “Dad’s Stuff™” over the past 4.5 years was actually stuff from Grandma’s that he never sorted through before he died. So the day became a crazy trip down multiple generations of Dawsons and Hedricks family memories.

To our credit, we kept it together all day and stayed on task. We did find some incredible items that I am glad to have salvaged out of the mess. We actually have the love letters my parents sent to each other while Dad was serving in the Navy and courting Mom in the Philippines before they were married. Amazing.

Dad Also spent time in the Carribean

Dad Also spent time in the Carribean

We also have a journal my Dad wrote about his life during my senior year of high school. Having just thumbed through it a bit today it is a fascinating insight into my Father’s life at a pivotal moment in his life and mine. That was the year that his life took a series of dramatic and important changes. I’m actually very excited to read this journal of his and hopefully learn a little more about the man and how he handled himself through that time of his life. It’s amazing, his writing is so clear and his voice is so apparent in the words. I found myself actually able to envision him sitting at his desk at the house on Country Grove Lane typing his entries in on his x486 computer. Amazing. Talking with Theresa, the way he printed out those journals and put them into a three ring binder… (fairly recently, likely just shortly before he died)… we can’t help but wonder that he maybe hoped we’d find it and read it someday.

Dad in Mexico

Dad in Mexico

We of course found all sorts of photos from our childhood, and from Dad’s. Every photo we found has been saved and put into moisture resistant containers. I plan on scanning the entire library of photos into the computer and adding them to our SmugMug site for anyone to order prints of anything they’d like to have. I’ll work on that throughout this year.

It took all day to get through this stuff. But we did it. Rick joined us about half way through the day and provided a fresh back for hauling the “keepers” to the new unit we moved into at the storage facility. My warmest thanks to him and to Missy who worked her ass off with us today. Without their efforts and their love and support today would have been A LOT harder and I don’t think we’d have been able to complete it all by dark.

For the record, we completely filled up what was a totally empty large trash container, overflowed into 4 large rolling recyle bins, and even had about a half dozen boxes and bags of materials for donation. We went through a tremendous amount of “stuff™” today.

And it was hard. And it was not great having to do it. But we revisited old memories, mostly fun and mostly happy, and in the end I think it was therapeutic. I mean really… Theresa found Laura’s mummified Barbie Doll that she wrapped up in paper mache. How could you possibly feel bad about that? I could almost hear Barbie saying, “It’s from the Egyptian Fall ‘0012 collection.” Hahaha.

I miss my Dad, my Grandparents and so many more. You all continue to be in my thoughts everyday and I hope that when when it is my time you will be there waiting for me with open arms.

10 Years

10 Years ago I had begun my second stint in college after having spent two years traveling the country as a “roadie.” In May 2001 I had attended my first Regional EMMY ceremony for my first EMMY nomination. My family was starting to rebuild and reconnect after a tumultuous 90’s. My Dad was finally feeling “normal” again after open heart surgery he’d had in 1999.

In many way I felt like my life had just found it’s stride. I had found purpose. I had balance coming into my personal life. I was hopeful. My optimism for my future was at an all time high.

Then, the morning of 9.11.01 my sister Theresa woke me with the words, “Wake up! I think we are being attacked!”

In that instant my world changed forever. In ways I never could have predicted. Some of them a direct result of 9/11. Some of them just the unfortunate turn of events that every life experiences. But in many ways I can say that 9.11 was the death of that new found optimism I had found in 2000 and early 2001.

Watching those towers burn and then fall was heart crushing for me. I could not stop my tears. I could not stop the anger that overwhelmed me. Or the love.

I enlisted after 9.11. Some people don’t know that. I was eager to join the military and I hoped greatly that I would be able to serve in the intelligence community after 9.11. It seemed to me that the best thing I could do was turn my mind into a weapon and become a part of the system that would protect us from this sort of thing ever happening again. Unfortunately, as much as my desire was there, the military wouldn’t have me. I was too heavy and the rules that had been placed on new recruits were tightened in previous years to help reduce the size of the military. These rules weren’t eased until several years later. By then I was committed to new things and trying to find my own way of healing the world. But to this day I am still sadly disappointed that I was not able to put on the uniform of my country and serve.

Over the next several years my family continued to grow closer. Possibly as a result of our new emotional state after 9.11. Perhaps that is one good thing for us that came of the tragedy. Laura and Adam were married and began their family. Eventually Theresa found love in Bryan and they too have married and begun their family. So all has not been tragedy in the following years. But 9.11 was the beginning of many tragic events in my life over the following 10 years.

We lost my Uncle Bob (2004), my Grandma Dawson (2006), my Father (2007), my Grandma Fronteras (2008 with her body finally identified 11 months later in 2009), my Uncle Francis (2010) and my dear friend Emily (2011). Both my Uncles died of heart failures as did my Father. My Grandma Dawson died after several strokes. My Grandma Fronteras died in the ferry boat that overturned in a monsoon in the Philippines. She was one of 800 souls lost. And my friend Emily was murdered along with her father by her ex-husband. Tragedy after tragedy in what felt like year after year. It was a brutal period of my life. In many ways I feel as though I spent nearly all of the 00’s grieving over one event or person continuously. It’s been heavy on me.

Perhaps that’s why I’m discovering so much grey hair now?

On this the 10th anniversary of 9.11. Of the time I feel like my life took a dramatic turn towards disappointment after disappointment I want to make a pact with myself.

I am pursuing optimism. I refuse to fall into despair. I am going to pursue happiness. I feel like the decision to start sailing this year was not a coincidence. I have found so much joy, so much peace… so much in myself, that I thought I’d lost while I’ve been out there on the water. It’s not by chance that 2011 is when I decided to pursue my dreams by finding new ones to pursue.

I feel like 2011 is a year of rebirth for me. Of renewed optimism. I know that life will continue to throw me challenges. But I am going to face them with a new outlook. I will not allow myself to wander through my life with a zombie like look in my eyes. I will not let the down sides of life dictate how I live. My happiness, my future… it’s all in my hands to control. And I will push forward on pursuing my happiness and my success.

That’s the best I can do. So I’m going to give it my best.

For Dad… 4 Years Past

Four Years Past
Mick Dawson 1950-2007

  • 1,461 days.
  • 35,064 hours.
  • 2,103,840 minutes.
  • 126,230,400 seconds.

Four years has passed since my father passed.

It doesn’t sound like much time. Four years is just a fraction of a lifetime. And yet, it feels like forever.

In four years my family has done so many wonderful things. Things my Dad never got to share with us.

Laura had her third child, Kale. Theresa and Bryan got engaged. Then married. Then had Dad’s fourth grandchild, Sean. I’ve fallen in and out of love. We’ve saved our business from the brink, and have started to contemplate moving into new directions away from our original plans with Dad for the business. Life continues on.

Four years.

The world has continued in his absence as well. The Middle East is going through a major transition with Egypt, Tunisia and now Libya over come with people standing up for themselves. Dad would have followed these events with much interest. A black man was finally elected President of the U.S. I doubt he would have voted for Obama, but there would be no denying his pride in witnessing the historic occasion that was Obama’s inauguration. Natural disasters have struck all over the world. Japan would have been very hard for him to witness. His love of the Asian people, especially of Japan, and the total devastation we all witnessed there would have broke his heart. He would have also had a hard time watching the complete disaster that has come of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. He spent a great deal of his life working in nuclear power and I know he’d have had many things to say about the whole event.

So much has happened. So much has changed.

I’m not the same man I was four years ago. When Dad died I was terribly overweight, I didn’t care much about business, I didn’t care much about my future or planning for it. I lived a pretty reckless life then. In the past four years, I’ve taken more interest in my health, I’ve developed a pretty good business sense, and I’ve learned that I need to balance more of my life between work and pleasure. So often I’ve spent my life overdoing one or the other. I lived out of balance a lot back then. I’m striving to find more balance now, and I think I’m generally a happier person for it.

I am still pursuing my dreams, though I have to admit that my dreams of 2011 differ a bit from my dreams of 2007. No longer am I solely focussed on the one dream of being a filmmaker. I spent two years happily involved with a woman I truly loved. In many ways she was my exact opposite, she was meticulous, careful, a planner. Much like my father actually. And though the relationship has ended I found in being with her a better sense of myself. Of finding those more structured sides of my own being. Things my Dad always said I was lacking.

Now, I am still the dreamer. But I temper that dreaming with some sense of responsibility. To my family. To my loved ones. And most importantly to myself. In many ways my dreams have gotten bigger. I’m making films, I’m sailing the world… I’m pursuing so many things that matter to me. But I’m also taking charge of my finances. I’ve finally put my IRS and student loan problems behind me with agreeable deals in both cases. I’m no longer running from responsibilities. I don’t let them stop me from doing the amazing things I want to do in my life… but I’m not letting them get completely out of control and away from me like I have in the past. I’m finally finding balance and I think my Dad would be pleased.

Theresa and Laura have both grown incredibly as well. Laura and Adam continue to be the amazing “high school sweethearts” couple, and are doing a good job raising Mikey, Aiden and Kale. Even with some struggles with job security (isn’t that true for most of us these days) and with Kale’s unique learning needs. They are keeping it all together and I’m very proud of them, as I know that Dad would be. Theresa has married Bryan and they have the most amazing baby boy in Sean. He’s a happy child and his big ears remind me so much of Dad’s baby photos, it’s scary. In many ways he reminds me of him. He brings joy to the entire family and Theresa is an incredible mother and has done a great deal to help Laura and Adam with their kids since Dad passed. She continues to be our protector, and Dad, I’m sure, is smiling down on her still.

The girls are also starting to pursue their new dreams as well. Laura is acting again, and she’s amazing. She’s as talented as we have always believed her to be, and I think she’s finally mature enough now to believe it herself. Theresa has successfully transitioned into directing as well. Her first effort was a wonderful horror film that she directed with such ease and confidence, you’d have never guessed she’d never directed before. He’d be so incredibly proud of them.

Dad always told us that some day he’d be gone and we would have to carry on without him. That day came much sooner than any of us would have liked. But his lessons, his love and his spirit continues to guide us to this day.

For 1,461 days I have not gone one single day without thinking of the man. I still weigh most of my decisions against my thoughts of how he would have reacted. His opinions still carry weight with me and they likely always will. But I try to take solace in knowing that my relationship with him was such that even though he is gone he is still always with me. He’s a part of me. Deep down my heart and my mind continue to hear his words. I continue to live my life in the warmth of his love and approval, even though I no longer can enjoy hearing the words from him or feeling his embrace.

I pursue my dreams as my father taught me to. To never give up. To hold my head high in failure and to stay humble in success. I love openly. My family is my soul. My friends are my family. And though I still struggle to find that one love to share more of my life with I will continue to hold hope that she’s there for me, somewhere. I know that I will make her happy when we finally connect. I know that because my father taught me how to be a man. And if I can be just a tenth of the man my father was then I know that I too will be a good man.

I miss you Dad. Everyday. I hope and I pray that you are out there discovering the wonders of this Universe and beyond, and I believe that someday I’ll hear you tell me how proud I continued to make you. Until then, please check in on me from time to time. I think I’m still full of surprises, but I think I’m getting better all the time.

All my love to my Dad on the 4th anniversary of his passing.
Dave