Tuesday, October 2, 2012

30 miles, a difficult year, Remembering My Father-in-Law Zane and coping...

I hit 30 miles, legitimately.  The first 30, I kind of pieced together a couple shorter runs to go with a 7.5 mile run and round it to 10.  This past week it was different.  I did four runs during the week and had a great 13.5 miler Sunday during the Broncos game.  Yes, running has become as important as the Broncos, but I did listen to them while I ran.  I go up another two to 32 and a 15 miler for my long run.  It will be my longest run to date and I am looking forward to it.

But, mainly I post today to look back at the previous year and a half of my life.  In March of 2011, things had been going pretty well in life.  Then in late March, my dad and stepmom visited from Alaska.  It was not a visit that went well and in turn led to angry exchanges that led to us no longer talking.  About 2 weeks after that my Grandma Ventura and someone who had been like a parent to me had a stroke that completely made her unable to communicate or eat.  My Grandma loved to talk and when you were in a room with her, you heard her voice the majority of the time.  I visited her daily until her last day on earth, July 23, 2011.  On that day, I did not want to be around her because I could no longer sit there without saying anything I hadn't before.  She was starving, frustrated with not being able to communicate what was in her beautiful mind and I could no longer see her like that.  I instead stayed away from the hospice she was at and spent that day with my brother, wife, Sophie and my Mom and Michael.  I talked about her and thought about how she would take me to Dairy Queen while my brother napped and how she made the best Mac N Cheese, Pigs in a Blanket, Pinnouchi and how she helped teach me math and make me realize I was brighter than I had given myself credit.  Most of all, she loved me no matter what and I will always miss her.  I don't know what it was, but at the time of her death, I felt a sudden rush go through my body I may not be able to every describe.  I knew she had passed.  I got a call from my dad not more than 5 minutes confirming what I knew.  I was relieved my Grandma no longer had to fight.  She fought breast cancer and survived for 32 years.  She fought terrible knees, heart surgery in her late 60s, a hospice stay due to her organs shutting down 2 years before this stroke and she fought seven days with no food and no water.   She was the strongest woman I had ever known.  I had to see her one last time and my brother and I rushed to say goodbye even though she was gone.  It was weird, but her hands and forearm were super warm after being fairly cool most of the time (old age is a bitch) and I felt like her soul was still there with me allowing me to say goodbye and be the last person to be with her.  I broke down as I said my goodbyes and let go of her hand to blow my nose and wipe my tears.  Not more than 30 seconds later, I touched her and she was ice cold.  That was my proof that she was gone and had waited for me, her favorite grand child, before finally leaving to a place she had welcome

Shortly after her death, coaching wrestling was no longer an option.  There was too much negatives to even try to put the time into showing it was worth it to my family and to the school and district and that was not a part of my life.  And to be honest, while I enjoyed it and was successful at it and loved doing, I wasn't going to be able to put what I needed into it to make it as successful as it had become during my 5 years there.

In early May I went to Florida with Andi, Sophie and my mother and father in-law.  It was a much needed vacation and it was nice to have just us five together and Sophie got to bond even more with her grandparents, but my father-in-law said something that will always ring in my ears while we were out to dinner at Outback in Orlando.  We asked why they wouldn't less us pay for our share so often, since it made us feel like we were looking for a handout or something I guess.  Zane said "One of these days we'll be gone, so enjoy it!"  I believe I tried to get another drink after that. :)  And I believe it was much more negative sounding when he said it.  And...

On October 6th, 2011, the difficult year I thought I had been having hit rock bottom.  My father-in-law, Zane Kunkel, passed away from a tragic work accident that day.  I got a call around 2:00 p.m. from my mother-in-law.  I was on the other line at work, but I was not use to seeing her call at that time and got an awful feeling and was just thinking about getting off the phone to call her back.  She called back as I was getting off the other line and she called frantic.  She could not get ahold of my wife and was trying to let her know that Zane had had a work accident and was at Saint Anthony in Lakewood.  It sounded like he had severe damage to his shoulder, broken ribs potentially and a collapsed lung maybe based off what they were "told".  My brother-in-laws and mother-in-law were trying to group together and get down there.  I tried Andi and could not get ahold of her either.  I waited about another 5 minutes and decided I could not wait to hear back from her and drove like a mad man to get home.  I got home in under half an hour.  I was going 65 in areas 30 was the speed limit.  I didn't care, I just had a feeling I needed to get home.  I got home and Andi was still asleep wondering why I was home.  I let her know what had happened.  She talked with her mom and suddenly it sounded like Zane maybe had dislocated his shoulder and they'd call us back when they got to the hospital and let us know.  I told Andi we needed to leave either way, just in case there was more to the story.  I sped to the hospital and we got there probably 30 minutes after my mother and brother-in-laws had arrived.  They had not seen Zane but he had got taken from ER to surgery and that's what they knew.  From everything the company he worked for said, a bolder weighing over 120 lbs had fell 50 feet and struck him near the shoulder/upper chest.  Finally after waiting for what seemed forever, a nurse came out and started blabbering incoherently.  She was interrupted by a heartless witch head nurse shortly after that appeared to be concerned (thinking back on it) about knowing more about what happened.  This shoulder injury accident sounded a lot worse suddenly.  There was severe bleeding on the liver and lung with damage to both.  It sounded like things weren't dire by any means.  I am not even sure how long it was before we were asked to go back to the back room and then we were told things looked "grim".  I cringe every time I hear that word.  There was bleeding from a vein running near his spine and behind his already damaged organs and that had to stop before the other items were even looked at.  I started calling family I knew that could provide good prayers in my brother and Uncle Tim.  I had already been talking with my mom as well.  It wasn't 15 minutes later that a surgeon came out and I knew it meant one thing, Zane was gone.  We all broke down.  My wife had lost her protector, the man that made her the strong woman she is and her daddy.  My brother-in-laws lost their hero and my mother-in-law lost the only man she had ever loved and had spent her entire adult life with in an instant.  They all lost a man they loved that gave each one of them strength beyond what they know or give themselves credit for.  Zane was a hard nosed, hard working man that didn't put up with shit but loved his family and worked his ass off to provide for them.  He in turn made three kids that are cut of the same cloth.  The toughest part of it all is Zane was the happiest I've ever seen.  You could tell from about a year before my wife and I got married, he was no longer as worn down and tired and angry, but was starting to enjoy life.  He and Julie were vacationing regularly, his family was getting along and the icing on the cake was his granddaughter Sophie.  Sophie changed Zane even more.  She softened him up and changed him.  The family lost their rock, but part of that rock is in all of my in-laws and while there will always be a piece of that rock missing, they are still stronger than most people in the world because of what Zane instilled in them during his time with them.

They all have it much harder than I do and that's why I talk about them and care more about how they feel than myself.  That's a man they knew from birth and the main person they got their strength from.  That said, I lost someone I love, respect and I felt was like another dad, not just while being married to his daughter but from when I was a late teenager and his son's best friend.

I had spent a large majority of my college weekends with the Kunkel family, especially during football season.  I had grown up a CU fan because my own dad raised me a Broncos fan first and Buffs fan second.  We watched many games together and he took me to my first CU game.  4 years later I was tailgating with the Kunkel's on a regular basis before CU games while Barry was preparing for games.  I would go to dinner after the games with them.  I'd hang out at their house waiting to go to a movie or go to a restaraunt or do something during the season, after the season and in between.  I became the bastard child pretty much and this was before dating his daughter.  Zane made me tougher but I believe I made him laugh more because of my opposite personality.  I wasn't a fan of confrontation, I didn't mind acting like a jack ass and I was a jack ass.  I said things that he would have told other people to STFU about because he knew that was me.  I'll always remember calling him a Sad Panda, being the only person that could call him Zaner and just how much better the game and tailgates were with him there.  I lost someone that I knew was always going to be another man my daughter could look up to and respect and be loved by.  He was a phenomenal grandfather and was really fun to be around especially the last handful of years when he was finally finding FULL happiness.  I cry, but it is far less than my in-laws and wife.  It's not that I don't care, it's that my sadness doesn't always require tears or words.  I tend to bottle it up and thus I gained 15-20 lbs within 3 months of his death.  Food was my way of coping with lifes issues.

In March of this year, weighing close to 210, I finally found a coping mechanism that was healthy for me, running.  When I run it helps me lose some of my sadness and realize some of the great things that I got to do in my life were because Zane and the Kunkel's brought along my bastard child self.  I have a 15 miler planned for this weekend.  Saturday is the year anniversary that no one knows how to approach.  Whether I run that day or the day after, the main person I'll be thinking about throughout it is Zane.  Thinking about Zane and other things in life while I run are great ways for the miles to just go by and for me to find a way to cope with the negative things in life and be my therapy.  Losing weight, becoming more happy with myself and body have made the March 2011 to March 2012 year being the toughest and most depressing of my life to the last 6 months being happy realizing I can only control my own mind, body, emotions and beliefs and unless I find some happiness and peace I can't help make anyone else more happy.  I love my wife and in-laws and little Sophie so much and all I can do is share my stories about Zane, listen to theirs and tell them I also miss him greatly and do what I can for them weekend.