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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Mystery and Tragedy of Death before our Due Date...Part 2

(if any of you came to read a story you heard  I posted about the death of a fellow poker player's 2-year old daughter...I received a text message earlier from a friend and blog reader, informing me that the actual person was someone who has a very similar name, almost identical spelling. I've simply deleted all references from this post. I apologize to those who may have been affected by that post)

I promised I would finish this, and I didn't want to let another week or so go by before I got around to it. Last night's birthday party for Carley was a total hit. She had a blast...and as a father, just seeing that sparkle in her eye, and that smile on her face..makes whatever price came along with throwing that party irrelevant. Squirrel did a great job of organizing the event and buying all the necessary things to make it a real party. She is great when it comes to things like that.

So yeah...Cincere was laid to rest yesterday, and I will trust it was a wonderful service with lots of her closest friends and family present. They will be  holding a memorial  for her this  Monday on the Gulf Coast for all of her friends and the poker community to pay their respects. I expect a big turnout for that.


A lot of you know I am good friends with Chad Brown...have been for over 20 years now. We started out as baseball teammates, and I even worked for him as a waiter once in his all-male dance team...if you've seen Magic Mike...yeah! One of those. We've stayed in touch all these years, hooking up whether he lived out in LA, or in South Florida. He was always there to lend an ear whenever I was facing adversity and just needed the advice of a friend. Chad has always had time to hear people. I don't know what I can say about Chad that hasn't already been said by others. I think the ONLY thing I've ever heard negative said about Chad, was something every douchebag poker player has to say about ANY poker player who have enjoyed success exceeding anything they've come close to achieving. You know who I'm talking about. I'm talking about haters. And poker has way, way too many of them.

One of the best examples of who Chad is...and how much I wish I could be like a clip in this movie down below....where he is featured as a member of our baseball team that goes out to Phoenix/Tempe every fall and plays against other 40+ year old teams to win their version (NABA) of the World Series...which our 50+ year old guys won this  past year. I played on the 45+ team...we didn't fare quite as well. But we were all basically all one unit,  and were in it together...on both teams/ we all enjoyed the ups and downs of both teams.

In this clip...he is seen playing Stud-7 against Men The Master (aka Men the Cheater) when Men tells him he got lucky...that he's been getting a lot of good hands, and that Men is a much better player than Chad. How does Chad react? In true Chad fashion...he smiles, looks to someone to his left...where he just kind of smiles and laughs...then nods in agreement with Men. Class, just class. I'm afraid I would be incapable of that kind of reaction. I don't know...maybe now...but definitely not two years or longer. No way!

I'm not going to get too personal into what Chad is now going through. All I'm going to say, is that the United States sucks when it comes to allowing certain procedures to take place in the medical field. You can blame that on the corrupt FDA...who often times won't approve certain drugs because they are being leaned on by lobbyists who want to keep them off the market because it affects their pocket book. Pretty disgusting, but cancer is a big business in the US health system. Finding a cure for cancer is NOT what most in the medical field want to see. So for a person like Chad...with a fighting spirit, that isn't ready to just lay down in a bed and await their final makes it really frustrating. Chad has been going on a basic world tour the last 4 years or so, seeking answers, looking for treatment, undergoing his quest to beat his rare form of cancer. 

I texted with Chad yesterday...confirming his plans for this week...which amounts, in essence, to his last resort. A trip to Mexico to meet with doctors for another non-FDA-approved treatment. If it is successful...Chad has hope. If not...well, things look grim. A mutual friend of ours flew to NYC yesterday to spend some time with Chad and drive him to the airport this morning. He sent me a picture of them, along with Chad's father. I barely recognized Chad. I won't was sobering. I'm praying for a miracle for my friend, and hope all of you are too. We made a pact, Chad and I. I'm not going to tell you about it...not today. Maybe later. I'm hoping it's a deal I don't have to follow through on...but if I must, I will. 


I have a friend, her name is Weronicka. I've always called her Wonky. We both have very similar senses of humor, which means when it comes to poker, we get along really well. One of the greatest things about her...we can be playing poker on the other side of the country...and I will suddenly get this text from her, bitching about some idiot at her table..and it's like I'm there with her. She cracks me up. Wonky is married to a guy who flies fighter jets. They are both young. Kind of your All-American dream team, right? Well, again...without getting too personal into her past...her and 'Rage' got pregnant in the last two years. And on the heels of me and Cheryl having Carley, she was so excited. We check in with each other on a regular basis to talk about how her pregnancy was going. 

It's funny...once you bring a child into the world, a whole different side of you is awakened. You start to notice every little Facebook post where people's kids are involved. You carefully watch those moms who are having difficulties while in labor. You read books to be a better parent you never would have imagined yourself reading. I guess this is the process of becoming a less selfish, self-centered human being. It becomes a lot less about you and a lot more about those around you, especially your children.

Wonky had her baby...David. I looked with fondness at the pictures over the first few months. I real all her posts. Like I do with all my friends who have babies, Joe Cutler, Jason Young, Bill Phillips, Dan Walsh, Tyler Smith, John Dolan, Josh Brikis...the list is long and keeps getting longer. Everything seemed fine.

Then I started seeing some warning signs. Long bouts of non-stop crying. Other things. She would start to ask me certain questions about Carley. Then one day...out of nowhere, she just lost it. Confessing to me that David had a very serious that was going to permanently limit his ability to function normally.Without getting into too much detail, which...our of respect to her I won't...the bottom line is that David has been back and forth to the hospital over the last six months, numerous times with pneumonia. She had to rush him back again the other day...where they had him laying on a bed of ice to bring his temperature down. It breaks my heart. He is approaching one year old..and I don't think a day has gone by that he hasn't had tubes running into his nose.

Wonky has started to come to terms that she is most likely going to lose little David. We have talked about it a lot. I can't begin to imagine the number of tears she has shed over the past 365 days. I'm not one who is big on quoting verses from the bible, or giving inspirational messages that come off as cliche.  I try to be as honest and heartfelt as I possibly can. The only thing I can think of to tell to simply immerse herself in that baby as long as she can. Absorb all of his love. Let him know how much she loves him...and know in her heart...that one day, she will reunite with him in a better place. I want so much for her to be at peace when his soul finally surrenders his body. I don't know how any person...any parent...ever goes through that type of thing and emerges in a state of mind most consider to be 'normal.'

Part of me feels guilty that I am so blessed with this perfect little girl when there are others who have been made to suffer so unfairly. Wonky sends me pictures of her holding David...with his little tubes going into his nose...and then I might send back a selfie of me and Carley snuggling on the couch...and then I feel guilty. Does she feel like I am rubbing it in her face that my baby is 100% healthy? And going to probably live a long, eventful life? Should I not send her pictures? There has to be some feelings of bitterness, doesn't there? In a parent with a terminally ill child? How could there NOT be?

I don't know all the answers. I don't know what the right and wrong way are to act all the time. I try...and I've probably gotten a lot better about it in the past 10 years or so. I just know that life sure has become a lot more precious to me since Miss Carley Grace came into my life. And the things I will do, the things I will sacrifice, to make a great life for her...are the only things that are really important to me now. I hear these things happening all around me and they scare me, they really do. I can't even begin to imagine the pain, the absolute heartbreak associated with burying your child.

People don't go through life not being challenged by adversity. It's that adversity that molds us, and makes us the person who people talk about once we leave this Earth. Some can't handle the pain...the challenges...and they take their own lives. They are remembered that way. Some of us can sympathize, some of us can't. Still others take that pain...and they use it to get stronger, mentally and emotionally. They go on to do great things. To raise families. There is no perfect road map to success and happiness in this world, because there are just too many detours along the way that make it impossible to predict. The best we can do, is to do the best we can with the tools we have.

I hope you all have a good Sunday. I will be leaving for Vegas on Wednesday I think. I'm planning on stopping off in Arlington/Dallas to see my Seattle Mariners play an afternoon game against the Rangers...before getting back on the road. I hope to arrive in Vegas in time to play their first event...a $400 tourney with 3 starting days. I am staying at the Riviera for the umpteenth time. I sold 40 shares for my trip...and sold them all in less than three days. I've raised a $7500 bankroll for this summer...and kicked in $2500 of my for you markup cops out there...go ahead and get to work on that yourself crazy trying to figure out what I priced myself at this year!!! Let me just help you though. Starting bankroll: $10,000. We break even in...end up at $10,000...instead of getting $187.50 back per share? (what they paid) They get $250. Yeah...they get an even cut of my 'kicked in' contribution. Anything over $10,000...they get 40% of, I get 60% of.  Pretty simple. Last year? I  went with a $7500 bankroll...closing figure was $15,800. Everyone roughly doubled their investment. 

Oh and, uh...if the New York Rangers should continue this good run...and wind up in the Stanley Cup Finals....I making an impromptu trip to NYC...staying with a friend, and going to at least ONE game. Yesterday's 7-2 route in Game 1 at Montreal has me feeling pretty good about their chances. 2pm...the newest member of the Rangers, Martin St. Louis will be joined by his teammates as they lay his mother to rest. His mother, France, died suddenly of a heart attack back before Game 5...with the Rangers trailing Pittsburgh 3 games to 1. What has happened since then...the way the team has rallied around their teammate,  has been almost magical. Maybe the Rangers have an angel on the ice working for them?  :)


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