200-Day Streak

On Sunday, February 9, 2020, I started a streak. Today, August 27, 2020, was Day 200 of my writing streak. There were plenty of days throughout this streak that I didn’t feel like writing. But I did.

To say quite a bit has happened since that date would be an understatement. In fact, I’m not sure I could have picked a more tumultuous 200 days of my life to embark on this streak than the one I did.

Some things like COVID-19 and the social upheaval in our country are well known and have impacted everyone in some capacity.

Personally, my year started off very badly. I spent January 2nd so sick that I couldn’t get out of bed from what I think was food poisoning. That same day, the legendary coach of my favorite football team, the Cincinnati Bengals, and coach during part of my childhood, Sam Wyche passed away. I knew that day that I was in for a hell of a year. I never realized it would have been this bad.

Then, weeks later, one of the most inspiring humans on the planet and another favorite sports figure of mine, Kobe Bryant, passed away in a tragic helicopter crash. That impacted me emotionally more than I expected.

In late March, I became sick again, this time with flu-like symptoms similar to those of COVID- essentially everything but the fever. My chest burned and it felt like an elephant was sitting on it. It took me a couple of weeks to recover and begin to feel normal again.

On April 1st a miracle and, what has been the lone shining moment of the year, happened. My second son was born. I say a miracle because my wife and I had conceived our first child through IVF after nine miscarriages and countless pain.

Through the IVF process, we had a second embryo, a girl, that didn’t work. She was going to be named Doris, in honor of my Grandma, who I’ve had a close and special with throughout my life.

In May, I had to make the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. I had to make the decision to put down my dog- my companion and best friend of 15 years.

To have to make the decision to end any kind of life, let alone one that mattered so much to me was almost too much to bear. I was an emotional mess the week leading up to her last day and a week or more after. I have two other dogs and hope to never have to make that decision ever again.

Less than a month later, my Grandma Doris, the person my never-to-be daughter was to be named after, passed away.

The night before my cousin contacted me to tell me that Grandma had to be taken to the emergency room, I had a dream about her. In that dream, I was telling her ‘goodbye’.

The next morning, I couldn’t shake the dream and its vividness. All morning I repeatedly checked my phone. I could just feel in my soul that something wasn't right.

When my cousin texted me around 11 am, I was expecting it.

I immediately hopped on a plane and flew out to be with her during her final days. I was the last grandchild to make it out to Indiana to see her. It was almost like she was holding on to see me. The night I got there, she was in bed and woke up to see me. When she saw me she excitedly said, “Travis! You made it! You’re such a good kid!” Then she went back to sleep and that was the most coherent she would be the rest of the time I was there.

We’re now in the final days of August. Fall and shorter days are on the horizon. Sports, one of my go-to things to get away from the world and disconnect has been a mess. I have little confidence the NFL will make it to the half-way point of their season. If that happens, it will be a dark and dreary late Fall and Winter.

I’m an avid gardener and my yard and garden have been my sanctuary. I don’t know how I would have made it through the Spring and Summer without it.

To say I’m not worried once the final leaf has dropped and everything has been cleaned up and put to bed for the winter ahead would be a lie.

This week, I’ve felt a little more emotional than I have in a while. The weight of the upcoming winter, amid COVID, is weighing on me. I’m busy spinning up projects as a way to keep my mind occupied and continue to stretch my capabilities and maintain a level of sustainable uncomfortableness that’s needed to grow. But I’m concerned.

On Sunday, February 9th, I had no idea what was in store for me or the rest of the world. Through it all, I continued to write. It was often the most tumultuous days that writing was the therapy I needed.

I’m hopeful for the future. I’m also aware that my 45th birthday this month very well could be the half-way point of my life. I’m determined to make every day count the rest of the way. I could only have 40-45 years to be with my children and wife and that’s not lost on me.

We’ll make it through these times and this year. We’ll be stronger because of it. Because more difficult times are inevitable, but we’ll be ready. By ‘we’, I mean my family and me.

Here’s to another 200 days. Better days.

As I write these final words, something remarkable is happening. The sun, almost on queue, has sprung up over the hills near my house and is now shining directly on my face. Maybe that’s a sign of a brighter future ahead. We can only hope.