Let me put this out there right up front: if you are hoping for a tech post, this isn’t it.
With that out of the way, here’s another confession: this one is probably more therapeutic for me than anything else. If you can get something from it to, then I am all for it.
My last post was on October 30th. A lot has changed since then. A lot has happened.
As I write this late on November 18th, I reflect on the fact that tomorrow, the 19th, marks a week since the sudden passing of my father in law.
To really understand things, I have to go back to the beginning of October. He had been sick for a little bit, took a turn for the worse and ended up in the hospital. At the time, we thought it was pneumonia. He came home, didn’t get much better, and we took him to NYC to one of the best hospitals in the country.
He was there three weeks, and it took all of that time for them to finally tell us what was wrong.
Of course, we brought him home with one prognosis. That Thursday evening (October 29), we were exhausted…but we were happy he was finally back home, and we were happy to have an idea of what was wrong, and a course of action to get him better.
On the afternoon of October 30, all that good news, all that optimism from a night before, was crushed.
The tests that we thought had shown a nasty infection? It was showing lung cancer.
We looked at him, now with the knowledge of a different diagnosis, and feared the worst. Looking at things, when factoring in what we now knew, we were overwhelmed.
A week after hearing what we were dealing with, I went with my wife, mother in law and father in law, back to the same NYC hospital, to find out what we were up against.
Maybe, just maybe, there’d be some find, where this looked worse than it was…maybe?
No…we were not that lucky. It was everywhere, it was aggressive, and there was no treatment. Our mission turned to keeping him comfortable and enjoying whatever time we had left with him.
We had hoped that we’d get at least one holiday. Maybe two.
We got none. Less than two weeks after learning what we were up against, he was gone.
It’s been a whirlwind six weeks for the family. My heart breaks for my wife and my brother and mother in law, and for my children and my nephew. My father in law was a giant of a man, who could be fast friends with anyone, within minutes of meeting you. That was a skill that served him well in sales, but even more in life.
His loss leaves such a void, it’s so hard to express.
I sit here now, and I look back to how different things were just a month ago. A month ago, I was driving family back and forth to see him, keeping the house going, just biding time until he got better and was home again.
How wrong we were…
So what’s the message here? Surely there has to be one, right?
Perhaps…but like I said at the onset, this one was more about therapy for me than anything. But here’s a shot at some message…
–Take nothing for granted. We can look back on the trips we took in 2019 with more thanks than ever. With the pandemic, all our 2020 vacation plans were cancelled…and over the summer we were just saying “wait till 2021”. Now, we look back at what we did in 2019 and are thankful that we took a Spring Break trip to Hilton Head with the kids, and thankful that we squeezed in a Disney trip in July. Never imagined they’d be our last times as a family of 8.
–Never miss an opportunity. Whether it’s to tell someone you love them, or to give a random act of kindness, or just spend time with them. You never know when that last chance will be…or if you’ve already had it pass you by.
–Live life with kindness and a big heart. This is something I take from my father in law. Every person who has talked to us after the fact said the same things about how great he was and how kind. I know this isn’t just lip service-telling some neighbors that he was sick, or that he had passed, they were all devastated. He was so nice to so many, it’s something to strive for. Big shoes to fill, but if my children grow up to be like him, then they would be in great shape.
–There’s more to life…this is what I said at the title, and might as well bring it back. The last six weeks, almost everything has been secondary to our efforts to take care of dad. First, to understand what was ailing him, and ultimately, taking care of him until the end. Mine was simply a supporting role, throwing myself into whatever was needed…but so much was on hold, and with good reason. I am thankful that I can work from home (even before the pandemic). I am grateful that I was able to work throughout the day, around a crazy schedule, so that I could get work done but also support the family at home. Sure, my diet took a hit, but I will get back on track. I’d gladly trade a crashed diet for more time with dad…
So that’s it really. Life is so drastically different now, as compared to six weeks ago. If you would have told me a year ago that, by the end of 2020 we’d have spent 10 months locked down and the family would have lost it’s patriarch, it would have been hard to believe…but that’s where we are.
To those who have reached out, including some I never expected, I thank you. The support, the thoughts and prayers, they’ve meant a lot.
So, hug a loved one. Tell your family you love them. Enjoy the holidays a little bit more this year. Treasure every moment. Make those memories.