Time sure does fly. It can creep up on you like a five year old child, when you east expect and catch you by surprise. I am not one for surprises to be honest. I have had enough surprises over the past few years to last me a life time.
Last year at this time, our family had just started our new journey. Max was six months into chemotherapy. He had no hair, was bloated, nauseous , yet he still maintained his sense of humor and valor. I was doing the best I could. As long as Max was well. I was okay.
I remember sitting around the Thanksgiving table. I was grateful. I was grateful for my life, my family and the food we were about to eat. I was grateful for our troops. I was grateful for my strength and the courage of my family. I was grateful for God.
You see, on April 27th of 2007 at 5:00 in the afternoon, Annemarie, and I took Max and Alexander to the playground on the side of my building in Manhattan. Max fell as he rounded the bases. The fall caused a tumor in his arm to pop through the bone. He was in pain. You and I have no idea, what pain is. I saw it in is eyes. It broke my heart. Think of a wisdom tooth coming in. Now think of someone giving you an upper cut to the jaw. Pain right? Well that fall at that time, was a blessing. It was that fall that resulted in us taking him for an x-ray. It was that fall that saved his life.
I was then thankful for that fall and continue to be today and will be for the rest of my life. Had he not fallen when he did, we would have not caught the cancer. Who knows, to this day, had that not happened, Where would he be?
Our journey is far from over and may never end. But, that is okay. As long as we have our family, and Max is doing well, the obstacles are only temporary. Nothing comes easy for anyone of us. And, if you think it does, well you are only fooling yourself. With the right attitude we can overcome the hurdles that lie before us. Don’t let them define who you are- let how you overcome them define you.
I wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Smile and take it all in- you know I will be…………………….
I remember receiving a call back on June 18th of 2005, that a childhood friend of mine by the name of Dean Clarizio lost his battle with stomach cancer.
He was a warrior and fighter to the end. He and I had lost touch over the years, yet that doesn’t change anything. He did not deserve to die. Does anyone? He was a son, a brother and a friend. If you go to his website www.dmcff.com you will see how brave he was and how to this day he will always be thought of as a hero.
I remember his wake. I remember saying goodbye and looking at him resting so peacefully. I was sad, and confused. At that time Cancer was so foreign to me.
At that point in my life, I was 34 years old, had a beautiful two year old son named Max, an amazing wife , Annemarie who was about to give birth to our second son to be named Alexander. Alexander was born on June 30, 2005.
It never occurred to me then, that in two years time, from the day Dean lost his battle to cancer, we were going to begin ours……
In life we all have heroes. Some are make believe and some are as real as the day is long. Heroes do exist, and they do walk amongst us, sometimes we just need to be reminded as to who they are.
In the first year of Max’s diagnosis, it became clear that my youngest son, Alexander who was only two at the time, lived with his true hero- his big brother Max.
And so I wrote a song called “My Hero”. I just posted it onwww.Myspace.com/davidplotkin. It is one of my favorites. It will be posted until Sunday night and then it will be removed until the album release.
“Be a hero to someone today and make a difference in their life”
Have a great weekend-
This past summer when I was in Nashville recording my upcoming album “The Journey”, I was in a honky-tonk bar with my brother Matt. We were heading back to our hotel and decided to stop off and have one more drink before we called it a night. It was a Wednesday at 10:00 and the crowds were fading. We sat at the bar, two fish out of water and had a beer. There were only sixteen people in the bar. A man approached me and asked me my name. He said that I looked very familiar. We went back and forth for about thirty seconds, and I said with a smile “ you have the wrong guy.”
I toasted his bottle, turned my back and moments later I felt a tap. He asked where I was from. “Manhattan”, I said. He told me that he was from Michigan but had been spending a lot of time in New York City this past year. “Is that right? Where? I asked. ”Memorial Sloan Kettering”, he said.
My brother and I looked at each other. I could feel the chills going down his spine and he mine as we were astonished. I then said with a smile, “Well that’s how you know me”. I told him about Max. He then shared with me his story about his daughter Emily who is Max’s age and has a brain tumor. He remembered me from the playroom. I was with Max shooting hoops and his son, who is ten years old and is autistic, came over to play. Max and I welcomed him into our game, which lasted over an hour. Along the way others joined. Most of the kids were the siblings of other patients. “Peter is my name, and I am from Michigan” he said. “We were having a rough day with Emily. You made it so much easier for us. Thank you for including our son in your game. It was great to see him laughing and playing.”
He and I have been in touch. Emily is doing great!! He will be in New York for scans in January and our families will meet. I already told Max, that there is a pretty little blond girl coming to New York that wants to meet him. He asked me, “who”, and I responded, “her name is Emily, she is a very special little girl, and her daddy is my new friend.”
What were the odds that I would meet another father from Memorial Sloan Kettering, in Nashville, at 10:00 P.M. on a Wednesday night in a honky-tonk bar, with only sixteen people in that bar including my brother, myself, the two bartenders and the bouncer. Was it a coincidence or fate? I am not sure…..
I took a leave of absence from Wall Street ten months ago. I dedicated my time to Max and my new project. I accompanied him to the hospital five days a week for chemotherapy. We would get there around 9:00 a.m. and leave anywhere between four and seven p.m. depending on his treatment for the day. He and I would spend most of our days in the play area playing basketball, video games, and dinosaurs. Sometimes, I would act silly and clumsy like a clown and walk into walls and doors pretending to bump my head or nose. He would laugh hysterical for minutes on end. And then, I would go to sit down and miss my chair entirely. Anything for the kid, right?
I had the honor of meeting a twenty-seven year old man named Justin and his wife, Kelley from Mississippi. They were at Memorial Sloan Kettering because their six year old son Codey had Neuroblastoma. It is a rare pediatric cancer that effects six hundred children a year. Codey, had been treated at the hospital since he was one years old and by the time he was three he had been in remission. He had a relapse about two years ago. Codey was often times sleeping in his stroller because he could not walk and was weak from treatments. They stayed at The Ronald MCDonald House. Max and I bought Codey a remote control car. It was the first time I saw Codey smile.
Justin and his family live in the deep south of Mississippi and is 3 hours from the closest airport. He has six hundred people in his hometown with two traffic lights. He lives on a farm the size of central park and shares the land with his parents and his brother. His driveway is all dirt and is over two miles long. He is a telephone repairman and has spent all his savings on travel to and from New York City over the years in hopes to find a miracle at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
As different as Justin, from Mississippi and I are, at our core we are very much the same. We would do anything for our children. I emailed Justin this past weekend too see how Codey was doing. I was saddened by his response, “I am sorry to say, he passed on Wednesday night.”
I sat there wiping my tears, staring at the key board, not knowing how to respond. And then I typed, “ I am so sorry to hear. He was a warrior and is a hero. My thoughts and prayers will always be with him and your family. Remember, you always have a brother in New York if you need.” I clicked send. I have not heard from him since and probably never will again…