Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Before we jump in, a quick update. When I started this latest round of chemo, the doctor in Houston noted that it works about 25% of the time and when it works it's usually dos so for a couple of months. The good news is that a scan last week indicated that the main mass is responding and there are no new lesions. Whether it’s two months or two weeks, I’ll enjoy the good news for as long as I can. I’ve done a terrible job of keeping up my correspondence during the last couple of weeks. If I’ve failed to respond to a text, email, call, or IM, please accept my apologies. I’ll do better next year!

The Rushing family took to the road last week as we decided to spend Christmas week in New York. As it was the boys first trip to the city, we spent the majority of our time doing magnificently touristy things – the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Empire State building, Central Park, The Met, The Lion King*, and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular**. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. It rained most of the time we were there, making for a number of soggy slogs through the city. The cloud cover also prevented to boys from ever getting the iconic view of the city skyline (most egregiously on the only day we could go up the Empire State Building- zero visibility). It was also somewhat difficult to get in the Christmas spirit while it was 74 degrees out. Fortunately, we managed to get over the weather and enjoyed a fine few days.
Our selfie with the Statue of Liberty.
Against better judgment, we stayed near Times Square. Last time I was there was for my bachelor party. The place has changed a lot in thirteen years. The number of LED billboards has grown exponentially, and it appears to be more family friendly. However, on one walk back to the hotel, my oldest said “Hey dad, let's eat dinner at The Cheetah, they have sushi. Plus, it’s a gentleman’s club, and I’m a gentleman.” My tap dance around that was indeed worthy of Broadway.

The young one and the iconic view of the New York City skyline.
This, my friends, is the last post of 2015. It was an up and down year to be sure. The news of the year came in March when I was diagnosed with stage IV gall bladder cancer. Obviously, this was a downer, but it could be worse. I think I’ve done a reasonable job of handling the situation.

A view of the city from the Empire State Building.
On the up side, I got to travel a bit this year. I took the oldest to England, the youngest to Atlanta, and both of them to Washington D.C. I crossed a couple of American buildings off my architectural bucket list with my wife (the Kimbell in Fort Worth and Fallingwater in Pennsylvania). I crossed off a couple of others on a solo trip to Istanbul. The whole crew vacationed in Seaside, New York, and Disney. We traveled extensively in the tri-state area, watching young men play soccer. I worked with dear friends in Iowa. I took my medicine in Houston and Nashville. I kept my medallion level with Delta, and according to them I traveled about the same number of miles as I did in 2014. Not a bad year at all.

The statistics say that 2016 will be my last year. Whether or not this will be the case remains to be seen. Since that is largely out of my control, I’m not stressing about it too much. I don’t suspect that I will be able to travel as robustly as I have for the past several years, but I’m going to do my best to get out and about while I still feel like it. There is, however, plenty to look forward to this year: will Alabama make it another national Championship? Where will the boys end up going to school? Will I be able to beat the Crushing Big C Countdown Clock? Stay tuned for the answers to these and many more 2016 questions- see you next year!

*Were it left to me, I don;t think we would have gone to a show where the dad dies and leaves his progeny to fight hyenas. The boys seemed to enjoy it, however, so I won't quibble.

**I am shocked that the NY libs have let this one stand- a show with a line of dancing girls, a nativity scene, and the Christmas story actually read from the bible. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before this one is rewritten to become a “Holiday Spectacular”.


What Now

Hey ya’ll, I’m back in the saddle again, trying to try to keep my blogging discipline. In Rushing sports news, basketball season for the boys tipped off this weekend. The youngest scored in his team’s 28-0 victory. The oldest scored 20 in a 24-2 win. I love watching the boys play soccer, but it’s a nice change of pace to watch some hoops. If we can keep young egos and attitudes in check, this should be a fun season. I’ll try to try to keep you posted.

Over the past few weeks and months I’ve been confronted with the question of “what now ?” I’ve settled into a pretty close facsimile of normal life. D and I go to work, the boys go to school, and we spend our weekend together on some adventure (or sport) or another. Some of the details are different- I have to pop in for chemo every couple of weeks, a few days a month I have to carry a pump around, my eating habits aren’t quite what they used to be, and I don’t have near the stamina I did. In broad strokes, however, this is pretty close to life as normal. Except that it’s not.

My professional career is rooted in planning for the future. My current work in Chattanooga, planning the future of an organization that is focused on the future of the community, makes this doubly so. It is a surreal experience to prepare for the next year, the next three years, the next twenty years knowing that I’m not actually going to be a part of it. The flip side of that coin is that I am somewhat prepared, as planners are used to the metaphoric concept of planting trees, the shade of which they will never enjoy.

Despite that preparation, I don’t really know what I should be doing now. Let’s say I’m within the last 6 months (give or take) of life. Should I be doing something profound and exciting? Should I be writing Facebook posts listing the top ten things dying people want you to know? Should I be traveling my ass off trying to see cool buildings and exotic cultures? Will I look back from my deathbed and regret not doing something right now? I don’t know.

So many of the motivations of “normal life” all have future components to them. We work to gain experience so that we can be better at our jobs in the future. We try to excel to garner accolades that will enable us to get better work in the future. We work to earn money so that we can retire in the future. We put our children through school so that they can have a chance to succeed in the future. We eat and drink certain things so that we can have good health in the future. It’s amazing how much of our present time is dedicated to a future that we are not guaranteed.

What then is life when there is nothing to “look forward” to? There is only the present, or “living in the moment” as the kids like to say. When there is a limited future to work toward, what form does motivation take? I’m still trying to figure out the answer, but so far I have found that the promise of money, stuff, and acclaim have not moved me. I haven’t really figured anything out. I have not achieved any level of enlightenment or higher consciousness. This circumstance, however, has forced me to start thinking about life in a way that wasn’t possible before. It’s different, and while I wouldn’t say it’s good, it’s not altogether bad. Learning to live in the moment can be difficult when you’ve spent your life preparing for the future. I’m working on it though, and I’m getting much better.

I had to dig deep to find an image of the entire C.Rushing crew
at Christmas. This is the 2011 vintage (excuse the bed-head).

I’m afraid there is no moral to this story or tidy way to wrap it up. So I will leave you with those random thoughts. It occurs to me that this will be my last post before Christmas. Accept my sincerest apologies that the topic was not more in the spirit of the season. I wish you all the merriest of Christmases and hope that the promise of the season enables you to enjoy living in the moment while looking to the future. 


A Quick Trip

Over the past several weeks, I've tried to write- or perhaps more accurately, I’ve tried to try to write. All the ingredients are there, but I’m having a very difficult time pulling my thoughts together. Call me lazy. Sorry about that. In the meantime, life has been good, and I’ve settled into a semi-normal routine. The down side, however, is that at any time this little gig could be up (Sword of Damocles and all that). I have no update on my health, as far as I know the Crushing Big C Countdown Clock is still valid. I have a scan on Friday and if things change I’ll be sure to let you know.

Since my last post, ‘Bama beat Auburn, won an SEC Championship, and won a Heisman trophy. This has me a in a pretty good mood. I’m looking forward to the Michigan State game, but that seems an awfully long time away. I guess we’ll all have to take a break on that count.

This past weekend, the missus and I pulled a trip up and back to Pittsburgh in order to tick another building off of the list- Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. I did not particularly care for downtown Pittsburgh (although Market Square was pretty cool), but that assessment is virtually meaningless as it is based on being there less than 24 hours.

There is no denying the genius of Fallingwater. I must say, however, that the building did not hold sway over me in the same way that some of his other work has. The experience was definitely worth the trip, but it was not really a life-changer.

The fun of the trip was the trip itself. As perverse as it sounds, I enjoyed flying- I don’t even mind being in the Atlanta airport. I even enjoyed the drive- despite the numerous toll roads (a mostly yankee concept that does my head in), and the surprising fact that the Laurel Highlands seemed more like depressed Appalachia than scenic drive. I missed the boys, but it was good to travel, if only for 36 hours.