Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Family First

I've been back to work almost 8 months now. I had to take six weeks off––October 15 until November 30––to recuperate from my treatments. My Doctors recommended I take 6 months off. Yeah, right. Like that was going to happen. I needed to get my brain back in gear. Take my mind off of the cancer. 6 months?

My family thought I was crazy for getting back to work. I thought I would go crazy staying around the house until the beginning of May. I'm a bit of a workaholic. (Is that like being a little pregnant?) I love what I do for a living. But at what cost?

A little over 20 years ago, I was working ridiculous hours. I had started a new job at one of the biggest ad agencies in the world and I was on the fast track. I was working 6 days a week, every week. Sometimes all  7 days. I was responsible for around $125 million dollars of business, supervising 12 people as well as creating 15-20 TV spots per week with my creative partner. In an average month, we created work for over 300 job requests. And that was just one client. So yeah, a lot of work.

The reason I'm painting this picture of obsession is it all came to a head with my Wife, Teresa. She was left at home taking care of our four children, who were all under the age of 8. I only saw my family briefly in the morning. I didn't take vacations. I was losing my family. "It's either us or work." Those were her words. Those were the words that woke me up. Having lived through 8 marriages and 6 divorces––my parents have both been married 4 times––I didn't want to live through another divorce. Especially one of my own doing.

It was at that point I made up my mind. It's a lot easier getting another job than getting another family. And I love my Wife and children MUCH more than work. I got another job. I got a big part of my life back.

It's funny how certain events in our life change the way we live. What if I didn't listen to Teresa? What if I put work first? I can tell you that if it wasn't for my family, I wouldn't be alive today. They gave me purpose. Strength. Comfort. Support. And most important of all, love.

Going through radiation and chemotherapy was hard on Teresa and the kids. I saw it in their faces. I still see it every now and then, when I try to do something that I just can't do yet, like move a couch, throw a baseball or wrestle with my Grandkids. I can't wait to wrestle with Lucky and Eli again.

I still have a hole in my stomach from my feeding tube. I still have about 5 months to go before I'm back to normal. Whatever normal is. And most important of all, I still have my family. And they come first.

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