I haven't posted in a while due to mainly apathy and things like Twitter and Facebook being much more convenient and less time consuming. But I know there are about 3 people out there reading this, so I should probably update it every week, so I don't have Mickey Mouse on the top of my blog forever.

So Thanksgiving is over and Christmas season is upon us and Adrianne and I are struggling through as well as we can. It's strange not looking foreward to decorating the Christmas tree or hanging stockings this year. In some way it gives me the ability to focus more on the real meaning of Christmas rather than all the nostalgia wrapped up in the American traditions of Christmas.

This weekend I had a great time playing for the worship service at the Grove with my friends Scott, Adam, Mike and Carolee. We have so much fun musically and I really could feel God working through us this weekend. Maybe it was just being closer to the front of the stage where I can feel the energy of what's going on in the room. Hopefully my "bass player face" was not too distracting to anybody this weekend.

What probably nobody but the band and my wife knew is that my 5th finger (pinkie) was not working. While training for this weekend's Redlands Triathlon (I know I'm crazy but that's for another post) I developed Ulnar Nerve Palsy while doing a 22 mile training ride. Now for some real bass players like this one and this one that may not be a big deal, but I learned how to play upright bass by using my pinkie a lot. It was kind of weird trying to re-learn my routine "go to bass lines" while feeling like I had a carrot tied to the end of my hand. To make matters worse, we had a gig at Coffee Depot at the plaza with Quick Before Sinking on Saturday night and my injury rendered me helpless to play my upright bass due to needing the reach of the pinkie to get to the wider note spacing and longer scale of the instrument. (I just realized that I think this paragraph wins the award for most links on my blog)

Well things are slowly improving this week as I'm adjusting to my finger and I'm looking forward to finishing my first triathlon. My father-in-law Charlie has been excited about getting Adrianne and I involved in triathlons since he caught the triathlon bug 5 years ago or so. He's an amazing guy and is so passionate about the sport. He is going to be competing with us at the age of 64 and I don't think I can beat him even though I am 30 years his junior. My swimming technique is best described by the name of my band. Flap your arms quick before sinking, so I'm just hoping I don't drown. Wish me luck.

It's been a while since I've posted. It's been a little bit of complacency and a lot of doing other things including running a lot. It feels good to get the blood pumping again. I am working towards getting my 5k time down to the respectable 21 minutes I was running 1 year ago right now. Three weeks ago I competed in a team relay with my wife and a friend in the LA Triathlon. I ran the 5k on zero training in 30:36 which would have been an easy training run last year - pathetic. Needless to say, it will take a little work.

Today at the Grove we had guest preacher Bryan Loritts, an amazing speaker with an incredible gift to inspire with his stories and beautiful communication style. I still remember his message from over a year ago about Wilbur Wilberforce and needing to go and be a light in our own workplace and through our own circumstances to stand up for those who are oppressed.

Today he spoke on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 on finishing the race of life well. He used the analogy of a marathon and spoke of "the wall". Anyone who has run a marathon will probably tell you that if they give it their all there is a time - usually about 20 miles - when you want to quit. All of the glycogen (the fuel used by your muscles for exercise) in your body is spent and you literally have to "dig deep" to finish. Some people are able to train hard enough to get through this moment, but if you are running to be competitive and not just to finish you will hit the wall, it is just a matter of whether you can push through it mentally and physically or if you will perform a "death march" to the finish line.

In June 2007 I ran my only marathon the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego. Although I did not compete in this race to win, I am competitive with myself. I had a goal to finish in less than 4 hours. I was on pace through 18 miles and remember seeing my brother and sister in law at mile 18 and thinking "if I can keep this pace for 8 more miles I will finish right at 4 hours." Unfortunately, I did not meet my goal. Despite missing my time by a few minutes, I distinctly remember three moments from those last 8 miles.

First was trying to climb a little bridge at mile 20 which seemed like a mountain at that time. I remember having the overwhelming urge to stop. I just told myself to push through it and it would all be over soon.

Second was hitting mile 22 and seeing my father-in-law Charlie. He ran with me for the next mile or so and I remember just talking with him and telling him how much it meant to have him run with me. As I left him behind to finish the last 3 miles the band was playing "In the name of Love." One of my favorite U2 songs - just a surreal moment. I still get chills thinking about it.

The final memory I have is the last mile. The marathon finishes in the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and I remember seeing the marine guarding the entrance with his M16 and realizing I have less than 1 mile to finish the race. My pace quickened and the last mile didn't hurt any more. I remember looking into people's faces in the crowd and just smiling realizing it was finally over.

The finish line is an incredible place. I know the feeling of finishing strong and it feels like you are on a cloud (or perhaps it's just the low blood sugar). It is worth the pain you endure. My prayer is that I can finish strong in the race of life. I'm not sure if I've hit the wall or not. Maybe losing Karissa is just a little hill and the worst is yet to come. Every time I think that life can't get worse I find out it can. I need people to come beside me and run with me. I know in my heart God has an incredible finish line for Adrianne and I. My goal is to keep pressing forward even though it hurts.

I got a call last week from my buddy Josh to invite me to play in the Grove Shoot-out and of course I said yes. Even though I had to work late last night, I found out that I had the most sleep of all of my team which was 4 hours. Josh had put together a stellar team of Mike Lance and his other friend Mike (don't know his last name). Our team managed to shoot an 11 under par 59, which was just enough to win the tournament in a tie-breaker. Tom Lance's team of course had the low score, but they had a pro so it didn't count. I had an incredible time and I played pretty well which was a bonus. My blogging has been sparse lately. I've been worn out. I will get back to it next week. Stay tuned.

I love playing golf. It's a perfect game for me because it does not require me to find someone to play with. I'm a natural introvert and never really good at getting a bunch of people to play sports with me. As a kid, I spent hours playing baseball in the front yard by myself. My friends on my street didn't wake up until noon and I would just hit the ball as far as I could and chase the ball around the yard. The neighbors probably thought I was psychotic, playing with my imaginary friends. When I finally discovered golf in medical school, I realized you could hit the ball over and over again and not chase it. It's called a driving range.

I just realized I haven't played a round of golf since the day before my daughter Karissa passed away. That was just 8 weeks ago. I made a tee time to play with my father-in-law tomorrow morning. He's been taking golf lessons and had been looking forward to playing with me with his new and improved swing. It seems like there's more and more of these firsts that are happening, and yet there are more to come that I'm not looking forward to. Of course it's a normal part of getting back to living life after tragedy. As a doctor I have spent many nights memorizing the stages of grief, learning the DSM-IV classifications for grief, learning how to treat it with medication and listening and trying and put myself in the shoes of people who are going through the death of a loved one. I know it's normal to commemorate these little milestones. It's just hard to have it happen to you. It's more difficult to watch it happen to your spouse.

Time usually passes quickly for me. I normally look at the calendar with amazement as it seems like months just pass me by. For some reason, the last time I played golf seems like 2 years ago. I don't know what it is but it seems like time has just slowed to a standstill. It makes me sad to think the memory of that last day of her life is passing away as well. I've been sitting here trying to remember everything I can about that day. What follows is the stream of consciousness that came out of my brain as I was remembering as much of that day as I could.

I remember taking Karissa to her special preschool that morning, excited to play golf for the last time before I had to get back to work after vacation. I took her backpack and her lunch box and set them on the counter, she just started playing with the other kids unaware that I was leaving. She never was much for separation anxiety. I walked out the door and saw another parent walking in and smiled. I played at a new course in Lake Elsinore that day. I don't remember what I scored, but remember needing a par to shoot 39 on the back nine. Instead I quadruple bogeyed and was cussing at myself. I had a tuna sandwich at the clubhouse (a big deal because they didn't have any vegetarian food). I remember picking Karissa up at preschool and she had been changed out of her clothes because her clothes got wet. She played in the water her last day of life. She loved the water. She was tired on the way home, staring out the window, but didn't sleep. Adrianne was so excited to see her when we got home. It was the first time she had been to school in 10 days and Adrianne always felt uncomfortable being that far away from her. She was kind of disappointed that Karissa was in somebody else’s baggy clothes. Adrianne just loved having Karissa in cute clothes and I must admit these were pretty ugly, but I didn't really notice. I was worn out and sat at the computer reading the news about the Tour de France which had just started and caught up on my lab results and x-ray reports from the last 10 days so I wouldn't have to do it at work in the morning. I know Karissa had a bath that night, but I don't remember much else. I was kind of in my own world. Adrianne gave Karissa her medicine and I remember sitting at the computer and hearing screaming downstairs. I ran down and Karissa had put a bottle cap in her mouth and Adrianne couldn't get it out. Adrianne was frantic and said she's going to "choke to death." It seemed kind of an over-dramatic reaction at the time. I pulled open Karissa's mouth and removed the cap and Karissa and Adrianne calmed down. Karissa went to bed at 8 PM or so and woke up at 10 PM babbling for a few minutes and fell back a sleep just as quickly. Adrianne went to bed and I stayed up reading. When I went to bed at 1 AM, Adrianne was having a hard time sleeping and went in to check on Karissa, who was sleeping peacefully. I fell asleep listening to Mike Gallagher speaking about the emotions and difficulty of doing his first radio show after his wife passed away on June 29, 2008. That's the last moment of my life that I remember my daughter alive.

A year ago I told my friends at work I thought Barack Obama would be the next president and they all thought I was crazy. Remember Hillary was the inevitable candidate and Rudy Giuliani was the favorite among GOP circles. That was back when John McCain was polling at 10% nationally among Republicans. I watched an Obama campaign speech and remember how he was so inspiring and was such a charismatic speaker. Well I watched tonight's speech and he hasn't lost his ability to inspire. Now, as most of you know, I don't agree with him much in terms of policy, but I must admit I wish I did. I love the idea of an African American president simply because it shows how far we have come in this country. It gives me chills to see him speaking as a presidential nominee just 45 years removed from Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech.

Although I disagree with his political prescriptions, I would be proud to have Barack Obama as my President. I just don't believe in calling people ridiculous names and assigning evil motives to all politicians who disagree with me. One year ago in September, I saw Bill Clinton leaving our hotel in Chicago while I was preparing to run the Chicago Half Marathon. I remember waving at him and thinking how cool it would be to tell my daughter that she once was just a few feet from President Clinton. In the end as different as our philosophies are, we are all still Americans and most importantly humans, created and loved by God our Creator. I sometimes get the feeling that many Democrats literally believe that George Bush is evil and wants to eat your children. The campaign ad from John McCain today which congratulated Obama on the nomination, is the tone I wish could be used more often in our political discourse. Oh well, I'm back to watching re-runs of the speech with tears in my eyes.

Well all of us had a great time at Dos Lagos. The venue was definitely the biggest we've played as a trio and we were excited to see so many people there. I stole this photo from Bill's photo blog. Bill is a great bass player in his own right and I have to admit I get a little nervous playing in front of other bass players unless I'm playing Dvorak 9th Symphony and then good luck keeping up with me.

Afterwards the band had a fun dinner with our wives at TAPS and closed the place down. It was just awesome to spend time with our friends outside of the musical and church realm. Since Karissa passed away we have really felt the love and prayers of our friends and family. From the fellowship around dinner tables, to meals showing up on our front door, to sitting on the front porch with us laughing and crying into the night, to pedicures and spa dates, to working in the yard, to hundreds of cards and conversations in the hallway at church and work, Adrianne and I appreciate it all.

To everyone who is helping us through this difficult time. If we haven't said it to you and you read this, thank you. You don't know how much it means to us.