Monday, August 11, 2014

A letter from 40 year old Andy to 18 year old Andy

My chance to be Marty McFly!

Dear Andy 1991,

I just wanted to say hello and talk to you. I'm coming to you from the year 2014. There have been a lot of changes in the world but especially with us (you and me). I know that you're going through a rough time. You just turned 18 and started college and now Howard died and he was your best friend growing up. In 2014, I actually have 2 dogs but I still celebrate Howard's birthday every April 1st. I don't celebrate it by putting a candle in a burger like I used to. Now I just think about him and remember how loyal he was. I have a girl dog Magic and a boy dog Buddy. Magic is like Howard in that she's kind and always there when I do my therapy. Buddy is crazy like Howard was and he has that amazing sense that only Howard had to know exactly when you needed to be licked in the face. Man, I still miss that great ball of brown fur.

Howard was one of a kind.

I know that you feel ugly and awkward and that feeling won't go away for a while. I know you're afraid to talk about your cystic fibrosis and you're even embarrassed by it. I have several promises to make to you. One, things will get worse before they get better...but they will indeed get better. Two, that machine will get smaller and quieter. I know it's obnoxious. You are actually going to want to talk about your cystic fibrosis one day. Remember that being a leader is a lot more important than being a follower especially with the platform that you'll have. Being different is not necessarily a negative. It can lead to opportunities that for many would be impossible.

Andy, you have an issue with anxiety and depression. Get help. You may think you look weak for doing so but it's quite the opposite. Trust me. If you don't get help for you, get help for the people in your life right now and those you will someday meet.

I know you're afraid to date because you feel like girls look at you funny. Maybe you should stop shopping at K-Mart to buy your jeans and comb your hair every now and then. Sorry, cheap shot. Anyway, you'll meet a guy named Aaron and he'll help you with how you dress and a change in attitude in regards to dating. Listen to him even if he insults you a little bit. It's for your own good. You will finally start dating in college and CF will be a topic that you will have to talk about. It won't be easy but you'll see that these girls that are dating you only care about you and that's why they ask. If you care about them, you'll need to be open about the topic and less apprehensive when it comes to talking about it. It's a two-way street.

So here's where we stand in 2014...yes, 2014. You turned 40! I know you thought you wouldn't even hit 25 but you showed the world that you could fight. On your 25th birthday, it came to you that you needed to start making a difference and that dream about that little girl you've been having for a long time, it's finally going to make sense.

You found your one and only and got married. You have 2 kids. Yeah, that's crazy, right? You didn't think you could have kids. Medical science is an amazing thing. I won't tell you what genders your kids are but just know that no one will ever doubt they are your kids when they look at them.

You'll have your ups and downs with cystic fibrosis. You'll be introduced to IV antibiotics and several new treatments. You'll be doubling and sometimes tripling your therapy daily. You'll also become a workout fanatic. I know that sounds crazy because right now you look like a bean pole. You finally ran the Peachtree! Exercise is a key to beating cystic fibrosis. The doctors aren't harping on that yet but I'm right on this one.

You're going to get an opportunity to work with your father. Take it. It has nothing to do with the fact that the company ends up thriving. It has everything to do with getting to know your father. He's a good man.

Here are 20 more things you may want to know:

1. The Karate Kid was re-made. Yeah, I was pretty pissed too.

2. Atlanta has the biggest aquarium in the world now. No ocean but plenty of sea life. Makes sense, right?

3. You hated to read for most of your life and English class was not your favorite subject but believe it or not you end up becoming an author.

4. Your 5th grade teacher told you to sit down one day because you had trouble memorizing a poem and speaking in front of the class. You'll show her.

Ms. Stansbury, thanks for the motivation.

5. Don't stop the corny jokes. A sense of humor is important when dealing with a disease like cystic fibrosis. Yeah, I know you sound like a moron and your friends tell you that your jokes are horrible but it's your comical self that makes you the guy that so many people like. More importantly, that's the person that you like.

6. I know you hate your nebulizer but one day you'll figure out a way to raise CF awareness using it as a central storyline.

7. You are not alone. I know it feels like it right now but there are a lot of people that have the same feelings and concerns that you do.

8. If someone knocks on your dorm room wall because your therapy is too loud, knock back. It's time you stood up for yourself.

9. A cure is not as unrealistic as it once seemed. Take care of yourself and when the day comes, you'll be ready.

10. Remember everyone who told you that you couldn't do something because of cystic fibrosis. Write their names down. One day you'll prove them all wrong.

11. Don't cry during the movie "Titanic." Your roommate Ross will never let you live it down. My wife (one day to be your wife if you're lucky) has reminded me that if you get an itch one day to dye your hair blonde, don't scratch it. However if you do, make sure NO ONE gets a picture of you afterwards. That's blackmail.

12. If someone tells you about a stock called Enron, don't ever talk to that person again.

13. Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals is one of the most important telecasts ever and it had nothing to do at all with the game itself.

A historic moment during the 1994 NBA Finals

14. I realize it's 1991 right now and the Braves are doing amazing. Avery, Smoltz and Glavine are the three top Braves pitchers right now (though we'll get a guy named Maddux soon who is not bad either). I will tell you this. In 2014, one of these 3 is in the Hall of Fame. One of them will most likely be elected next year. And the other will have more significance to you than either one of the other has to do with his last name.

Great name!

15. Listen to your grandmother when she tells you stories about her Holocaust experience. That woman is an example of strength and courage.

16. If you need some alone time, go to a showing of "Glitter" starring Mariah Caray. Trust me, no one else will be around.

17. You'll learn a little bit more about your older sister. I don't want to tell you a lot but you need to ask Mom more about her. I know you just assume not know who she was or why she died but you need to know. It's pivotal to who you become.

18. The Braves won a World Series...yeah, enjoy that day because it's not going to be much better for any of our sports teams for a while.

19. A girlfriend of one of your old fraternity brothers is having a party in 1999. Your friend Ira is going to ask you to go. I don't care what kind of mood you're in that day, GO TO THE PARTY. That's where you meet the girl who will change your life. Dress nicely too. Remember, no more K-mart stuff!

20. The best has yet to come.

Hang in there my friend.

Best Wishes,

Andy 2014

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