Here we are one year from the day that Dad couldn’t finish his run*, when he was taken by ambulance to the hospital and the mass was discovered in his head, when he stopped breathing for several minutes and had to be resuscitated in the middle of an MRI scan. When his life – and the lives of everyone who knew him – changed forever.
I really don’t want to mark this date on my calendar. Hell, I don’t want it even to have happened, and sometimes I still don’t believe that it did.
Here’s one thing I’ve been thinking about lately as I go back in my head through the story of what happened a year ago: Dad regularly used to half-jokingly say that he hoped he would “go out running.” What better way to go, he pointed out, than when you're doing something you love? Certainly he didn’t want to officially Grow Old; he would not have done well sitting in a rocking chair on the porch all day. And who among us wants to stick around so long that we lose our independence and suffer physically and emotionally? No one I know, most especially Dad. He hated inefficiency and down-time.
In many ways, for Dad it would have been so much easier to go to the light when he stopped breathing in that tube a year ago.
I believe he had the chance to go on ahead then and that he made a conscious decision to come back to us, not for his sake but for ours. I think a person who wasn’t as strong or as determined or who didn’t have as much love and devotion for their family as Dad did would have made a different choice in that situation, and I am more grateful to him than I can ever express for the choice that he made on that terrible day last October.
Dad gave up his chance to go on ahead when he could have that first time; he devoted the end of his life to being with us a little longer. I don't think everyone has that chance - or the courage to take it when they do - but he did. He put all of his effort and strength into it, for us. And, as much as I long for the way we were, I am so incredibly thankful that he held on for as long as he possibly could.