The courageous doctor and the 'fraidy cat


Tonight after Mom and Auntie Barb left, Carl and I had a great talk with Dad. I told him that, while he was intubated and sedated in London, I was terrified that he would lose hope--that he would give up. That he would stop fighting. So I would enumerate for him all the things he needed to stick around for: his and mom's 50th wedding anniversary in February; Teagan's big school musical in June; adding Carl to our team for the Tour de Wyoming in July. Graduations. Weddings. Birthdays. Life.

But then tonight, as I reiterated this list to him, it occurred to me that I might sound as if I thought he was giving up. So I hastened to assure him--truthfully--that I don't. The path he's choosing is just that--chosen--and yet it has a certain inevitability. Because even if he had decided on chemo and chronic dialysis, he might still not be around for those things--or, worse, he might be around but unable to participate in any meaningful way. So instead he has chosen to give us a precious opportunity to take quality over quantity. And when I say "quality," my friends, I'm talking gold standard. Nothing could make me trade this week for another six or twelve months of him being miserable and suffering.

A lot of you have talked about how courageous he is. That is true. Some of you have said I'm courageous too. I am not. I'm afraid. And yes, I know that true courage is not the absence of fear but rather action despite it. But I am not choosing to act. I have no choice but to wake up tomorrow morning knowing the sunrise brings me one day closer to living the rest of my life without my father. It doesn't matter whether I'm courageous or not; it's going to happen.

So instead I pat my father's hand--these long, strong, elegant fingers made for playing the cello and healing the sick and building with wood and downshifting a bike--and I tell him not to worry. We'll be all right.


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