The meeting only lasted a few hours (or the time it took for the Bengals to lay an egg on Monday Night Football), though, to me, it felt like a weeklong getaway. At first, I was reluctant to attend the meeting because I knew Alex needed me at home. Kristy, however, assured me all would be fine. She encouraged me to have fun, and not to worry. In fact, she insisted that I attend, because she recognized my need for such a meeting. She knew that because I am Alex’s caregiver every day and night, that I sometimes need a break to stay strong – mentally and physically. She was spot on as usual.
“Go, enjoy yourself! Alex and I will be fine!”
A win-win business arrangement, if there ever was one.
You hate to admit, but caring for a child with Duchenne is exhausting - not only because of your son’s needs, but also because of your needs, which you tend to forget with time. I remember a neighbor telling me years ago that although I care for Alex, I need to take care of myself, too. I listened, but shrugged it off because I knew I could handle the challenge. I do, but she was right. It's a struggle. Despite my best efforts, caregiving is tough work. Although it's an honor and incredibly giving, it's also a tether and incredibly taxing. You never really escape it. You may not recognize your need to recharge, but, rest assured, others certainly do.
When I told Alex I needed to go, he impulsively voiced opposition. But, he then recognized what’s best for me and unselfishly supported the travel. Although that didn’t stop him from asking, rather persistently and in true Alex fashion, about joining me somehow, like a kid wanting to stow away in your suitcase. I, in turn, explained how the logistics just wouldn’t work this time and that Dad needed to attend the business meeting on his own. Hint, hint. Alex eventually, though a bit reluctantly, understood.
The meeting was attended by the usual crowd, including Sticks (the gracious host), InIt, Dilli, Crush, and Tuffy. A motley crew, if there ever was one at a business meeting…but an awesome bunch of guys who through their relentless laughter can make even a Duchenne Dad forget about reality for a moment.
The meeting was productive, to say the least. We debated team strengths and weaknesses and shouted over one another with recommendations for team improvement (yes, there were many recommendations that night). We argued best business strategies for the balance of the fiscal year while we nourished our souls with an assortment of chips, dips, pizza, and Great Lakes Ales. During our breaks, we discussed marketing strategies over a pocketed, felt-covered, slate table and evaluated product development ideas over rows of hard plastic men positioned on spinning metal rods. We ribbed one another over our individual prowess and fantasy management skills, and shook our collective heads for one coworker whose numbers were lagging now seven years running. We adjourned with plans of meeting more often than we do.
All in all, a productive business trip. And refreshing, too.
As I exited the terminal and made my way home close to midnight, I received a text from Alex – the first and only of the night! It read simply…
Which is Alex’s way of saying, Dad, I hope you are having a good time. But, I really, really miss you and hope you will be back soon. P.S. Aren’t you proud of me for not texting you all night?
To which I replied…
Which is my way of saying…Hey, Bud! Thanks for letting me spend some time with my friends. I’ll be home real soon. No worries. P.S. So proud.
As you can imagine, it was a much-needed trip. I was able to get away for a short while and hang with the guys, Alex had some prime bonding time with Mom, and the business meeting overall was a huge success.
Well, except for that Bengals dud.
But, in the business world, that doesn’t matter though, does it?
What matters is the connection.
Thanks, gentlemen. I needed that.