Overwhelmed (But I have a favor….)

Sunday, May 22, 2016.  I love Sunday’s.  Sunday’s are about family.  Bagels with lox (as well as cream cheese, onions and tomatoes).  Hanging out at home.  Not rushing.  Pizza and wings for the Sussberg family (although I usually order a turkey burger with no bun because I am a donkey).  Good red wine with Jen (sometimes late in the day if we are feeling wild and crazy!).  Watching sports.  Tucking the kids into bed.  And of course, the Sunday Styles section of the NY Times.

For as long as I can remember, the first section of the Sunday Times I read — and sometimes the only section — is the Styles section and, more specifically, the “Vows.” I just love reading the wedding announcements, finding out where people went to school and what they do for a living, and trying to figure out if I know someone from somewhere.  There have been so many times I have opened the section and stumbled upon someone I know.  And every time I feel like a 5 year old kid, running and grabbing Jen to alert her to the fact that I know someone getting married (Jen knows how much I love it, so she always says “cool” or “awesome,” even though I know deep down she thinks I am nuts every time I point it out).

Anyway, this post isn’t about Sunday’s or the Sunday Styles for that matter.  But like every other Sunday, I did read the Vows section tonight.  And I stumbled upon the story of Jennifer Alden and Kirk Spahn.  [Here is a link to the story….  ]

It is stories like these that make me read (proudly) the Sunday Styles section each and every Sunday.  This is a story about true companions (a song best sung by Mark Cohen, a graduate of Beachwood High School and the author/singer of our wedding song called — you guessed it — “True Companion”).  Jennifer’s and Kirk’s story included a cancer scare and blog experience.  This obviously hits home.  Jennifer and Kirk:  I don’t know you guys at all (although I did see Wedding Crashers).  I did, however, get glimpse into who you are on page 12 of today’s NY Times and for some reason I agree you will together leave the world a better place.  Wishing you both good health and good luck!

Overwhelmed can mean a lot of different things.  You can overwhelm an opponent.  Inundate someone with love to the point of overwhelming them.  Synonyms include bury, engulf, swamp and submerge.  But rarely do you hear the world overwhelmed in a positive manner.  That’s not to say it is not possible for overwhelmed to be used in a positive light.  Because being overwhelmed can be a good thing.  I certainly think so.  In fact, over the last 4 weeks I am not sure a day has gone by without the sensation of being overwhelmed — in a positive way — through the support that has been shown by my family and friends.  It is uplifting and appreciated.  And as much as people tell me to stop saying thank you, I only want to, and will continue to, say thank you more.  I am so humbled that is impossible for me to thank everyone who has reached out and offered support.  From long lost grade school and high school friends, to friends from camp, Beachwood, Temple Beth El, Syracuse, Cardozo Law School, current and former colleagues, extended family members, friends of my parents’ and in-laws’, old acquaintances, adversaries, best friends, old best friends, fraternity brothers, ex-girlfriends, even old friends that I couldn’t be there for when they needed a friend the most over the years (and I was probably too busy).  I am simply overwhelmed each day by the outreach and support.  It makes me stronger.

The outreach (as well as the medication) makes you think about a lot of different things, including why you completely lost touch with some or all of these people, each of whom was so important and instrumental at different points along the way. Maybe I am more comfortable in my own skin and being completely open with people I haven’t talked to in years because for the first time I don’t feel invincible.  Or maybe I am so comfortable in where I am in life, with my marriage and with my family, that is it suddenly only to speak to people that I cared a lot about (and still do care about) and let them know that was/is the case.  Suddenly it seems completely normal to offer an apology when you knew you treated someone poorly or without the real respect deserved.  No clue if there is answer here (let alone a right one).

Then there are family members with whom we may lose touch.  Sometimes there is a reason, a fight or disagreement.  Other times people just drift, and six months can quickly turn into six years.  Yesterday I sent an email to my cousin Jason.  Other than sharing a last name and knowing from the internet that he is a filmmakfer, I am ashamed to say I don’t think I would know Jason if I bumped into him on the streets of NYC.  The same can be said for Jason’s dad, my Uncle, and his younger brother David.  We just don’t have a relationship.  And it really is a shame.

I sent Jason an email because I heard that his brother is not well.  I told him it sucked that I was sending an email under the circumstances and that it was shame we did not know each other.  But I said we were family and I was hopeful to lend a helping hand in any way that I possibly could.  His response was pure class.  In addition to lending his support for our fight, he said he was hopeful we could get to know each other once the dust settled from this nightmare with his brother.  I feel so badly about what they are dealing with and the fact that the lack of a relationship makes my family effectively helpless to Jason and his father at a time they need us the most.  It is just too bad that all this time, and the complete lack of interaction, lead to this impersonal communication and inability to actually make a difference.

My intention here is not to sound like a preacher.  But the favor I have for everyone reading this is to pick up the phone and call someone you lost touch with for whatever reason.  Whether it be family (immediate or otherwise), an old friend or colleague, reach out and touch the people that were part of your life but may have disappeared.  Overwhelm them in a positive way.  We have nothing to lose but more time.


For those of you keeping score, tomorrow is the “make-up” chemo day after Friday’s rain out.  I frankly wasn’t thinking much about it — or the pet scan I am having tomorrow to see the status of the tumor in my chest — until earlier tonight.  That’s because even if I have kankles (from the nearly 4 weeks of steroids) and am feeling anxious, it was still an awesome day.


Jake scored two goals on the way to a 5-2 victory, including off a corner kick (which I unfortunately missed because I was driving very slowly after yesterday’s incident (and of course got lost)). Here is the video of his second goal:  

Ryan went with his best buddy Noah to the red carpet premiere of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2.  And Brandon got to hang out (mostly with his favorite person (his mommy)).



I got this tomorrow (no thinking, just playing)……..Plus I get to ride to and from the city with Jen, and that is making me happy already.


7 thoughts on “Overwhelmed (But I have a favor….)”

  1. Thinking of you and Jen and the whole family! It is amazing to see your positive attitude and hear more about your family. I know it has been more than forever but I think about you both and this battle you seem to be winning!


    1. So good to hear from you!

      Can you believe we are sending our oldest son to Takajo in a few weeks? There was no way a Samoset and Mataponi couple would not send their kids to Maine…..

      Really appreciate you reaching out and passing along your support. I saw some pictures of you and your family on FB — I am so happy for you! What a beautiful family.

      I recently took my oldest guys to the Final Four — they love the Cuse, what can I say? Other than getting crushed, it was an awesome experience.

      Thanks again for getting in touch. Let’s stay in touch. You were always someone I loved to see.


      1. So crazy! Can you believe we have kids old enough to go to camp??? Such great memories and I just love that you and Jen found each other. I love reading your posts and your positivity – something I always remember about you.


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