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"The Return of Superman"

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Written by Pat Curran

Posted on 17 January 2018

Last Updated 17 January 2018







Thank you for your continued support for the Fisher House and Wounded Warrior Project.  We have just 6 days left before we close out the fundraising drive. For those interested in donating or wanting to learn more about these charities click on:

Fisher House: http://www.active.com/donate/FisherHouse2010MCM/2010PCurran

Wounded Warrior Project: http://WWPProudSupporter.kintera.org/curran

This week, I want to document another piece of important family history for my girls to read someday. It answers the question for why I wear a Superman T-Shirt when I run. Well, the story below may surprise you. You see, I wear the T-Shirt because in the comic books Superman, like everything else, dies. That’s right. And when he dies, he only leaves memories of his great deeds and a legacy of staying true to his principles of truth, justice, and the American way. Many, to include the members of the Justice League, are lost for a quite a bit of time without their leader. But then you know what? Superman later returns to them, all be it, as a very different type of hero. Confused? If so, read on…

“The Return of Superman”

“Though we gather here today, bowing together in sorrow and loss, we share a precious gift.  We are, all of us, privileged to have lived a life that has been touched by Superman.  The “Man of Steel” possessed many extraordinary gifts, and he shared them with us freely.  None of these gifts were more remarkable than his ability to discern what needed to be done and his unfailing courage in doing it, whatever the personal cost.  Let us all strive to accept his gift and pass it along as an ongoing tribute to Kal-El of Krypton, an immigrant from the stars, who taught us all… how to be heroes.”

Eulogy from the Death of Superman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIGTMHRO8bs&feature=related

So, where were you when Superman died?   I am not talking about the comic book story.  I am talking about that day when your world was so rocked that you just flat out stopped believing.  Believing in your big dreams…  Believing in others…  Even perhaps believing in God or yourself.  Hey, you know what? I’ve been there.  But today’s journal is not about being miserable or stuck.  No. It’s a story about the “Return of Superman” and how my wife and two daughters helped bring him back to life.

It was late 2003 and I was in a very low point in my life, feeling lost.  A growing emptiness had been consuming me for about 2 years now.  Most of the time I felt numb, and other times when alone, I would hear something that would trigger a memory, causing me to drift off. However, a few months later on a very cold night in January, I reached a turning point.  While working at the Pfizer Brooklyn plant, I got a phone call telling me to get to the hospital right away.  Gina was in labor.

Now, people told me that having a child would change me in ways I could never know until it happened.  I understood why people said this to me but honestly did not believe them.  I already knew who I was and certainly did not need a PhD to figure out that life was going to get crazier from more bills, more stress, and more responsibility.  But, something did change me that night.

When Elizabeth was born,  I remember seeing the nurse holding her while she cried.  Gina held Elizabeth first.  Then the nurse picked Elizabeth up and brought her to me.  As the nurse carefully handed Elizabeth over, she instantaneously stopped crying.  Our eyes locked and then something truly amazing happened.

The next part may sound odd, but here goes.  When we looked into each other's eyes, it was as if something unseen passed between us.  A bond formed immediately.  I thought of how vulnerable she was and then I thought about 9/11 and all of the evil in the world.  At that point, the hair on the back of my neck stood up and my eyes got watery.  Finally, I was able to form words.  I whispered, "Elizabeth, I am here with you.  If anyone wrongfully touches a hair on your head, I will rip their heart out with my bare hands..."

Clearly, at that moment, I had regained my life's purpose again.  I would dedicate myself to protecting my family from all that is bad in the world.  Yes, that is a pretty big mission, but who else is going to do it?  I would only have the strength to do this for 2 or 3 decades so it was equally as important to raise Elizabeth to be a strong, confident, and caring individual ready to respond to life's challenges.  Although I did not know it at the time, I realize now that this was when Superman had returned...  But the story does not end here.  Some of my core beliefs were still seriously shaken.  I was no longer the man I used to be.

Well, as most of you already know, life does not slow down because you are tired or confused. As a matter of fact, it's almost as if life decides to take advantage and instead speeds things up! And, 15 months later, life did speed up significantly when Lauren was born.

From the moment Lauren arrived, she clearly distinguished herself as a girl who knew what she wanted and possessed the determination to get it.  Within the first 2 weeks, Lauren made it clear that she wanted her parents close by as much as possible and would not have it any other way! She wouldn't take a bottle and literally stayed "attached" to Gina most of the time for about 8 months.  Absolutely exhausted and burning money fast, Gina and I came up with a way to adjust our plans.  To be clear, it was not just because Lauren demanded it.  It was because we both knew Lauren was right to want her mother and father close.

That year, Gina resigned from teaching and decided to build her own tutoring business called Teachers-to-Tutors.  I volunteered for challenging roles/projects at work and squeezed in classes when I could at Fordham University in order to complete my first Masters degree. Grandparents pitched-in in a big way too!  The entire family became closer because of all of the added stress.  As a couple our motto became "No more 50-50.  It's now 100-100!"

Going into mid 2005 - 2006, other set-backs occurred.  One of the major set-backs was finding out that Pfizer was closing the Logistics Center I moved to in late 2004.  I knew that if I did nothing and just rolled over and gave up, we would have hardly any money coming into the home.  The family was already hanging on by a string, something needed to be done.  However, I did not know exactly what.

One day on the way to work in 2006, I saw a "Superman" logo on a car.  My first reaction was to laugh and say, "Yeah, where's Superman now?"  I next entered the facility, went to my locker, and put on my Pfizer employee uniform (green shirt, tan pants) to greet my team on the floor.  But, I could not stop thinking about that logo.  Slightly distracted, I list the order fulfillment priorities for the day to the team, answer a few questions, and concluded the meeting.  Next I darted to my cubical on the production floor to sit down at my desk and think.

Sitting there, I took my glasses off and used my thumb and index finger to gently rub my eyes. Right at that moment, I thought to myself, "Patrick, Superman is not coming...  Stop waiting. Stop making excuses.  To get out of this, you are going to have to be who you were born to be.  You will have to be Superman!  A Super-Husband, a Super-Dad, a Super-Team Leader, a Super-Whatever It Takes."

During the rest of the that day in 2006, I used every free moment to do a self-inventory of who I was at that moment and who I will need to be in the future in order to lead my family to safety.  Even today, I still reference my "Superman Inventory" to help me see when things get blurry.  This plan has helped me stay on point for balancing family, faith, work, and school which of course includes sustaining the Freedom's Light Charity Program.

So let’s go back to my original question:  Where were you when Superman died?  I still clearly remember that day in my own life.  Quite honestly, it nearly broke me.  But I look back now and see that if it were not for the birth of Elizabeth and Lauren, I might not have had the courage to dig deep and find the “Superman” within me.  Sure, today’s “Superman” is physically weaker and perhaps even a bit darker than the one from 10 or 15 years ago.  But having the gift of seeing life through the eyes of a child over the past 6 years has healed me.  It has helped me regain my innocence, curiosity and compassion from my youth.  It also has provided me the resilience and fortitude to be the best husband, father, and leader I can be.

As you probably could guess, I could go on for pages.  However, neither of us have time today.  The most important message I want to record in this journal entry for my girls is that, regardless of what others may say or think, Superman is present in all stages of our life.  We just have to have the courage to look for him and allow his strength to emerge.

Have a Great Week Everyone!  Take care and God Bless…




Training Schedule

On Saturday, I completed 13.1 mile run at race pace with relative easy. However, during my 20 minute stretching routine after the run, a pain emerge on the outside and underneath my right knee. Swelling followed as the day went on. As I write, I am icing my knees to control the inflammation. Nothing else good can happen until that task is completed.

Instead of being mad, I remain optimistic. I’ve adjusted this week’s workout schedule to make an informed choice on whether to run the marathon or not by this Thursday. So, it’s one day at a time from this point forward. Key is to think clearly without adding any “drama” to cloud decision making.

Monday: Stretch, ice knees 30 minutes

Tuesday: Swim 800m, stretch; ice knees 30 minutes

Wednesday: Bike 15 min, stretch; ice knees 30 minutes

Thursday: 2-4 mile race pace (~10 min/mile); stretch/ice; pre-race hydration plan

Friday: Swim 800m, stretch, ice knees 30 minutes; pre-race hydration plan

Saturday: Rest, pre-race hydration plan

Sunday: Hammer Time! MCM: 26.2 miles


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