June 7th 2015… I hugged my dad goodbye and said see you Wednesday. Deep down I knew that would be the last time I saw him. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about two and a half months prior. I healthy 58 year old given a great prognosis from the team of docs at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Unfortunately, this disease doesn’t care about who you are, where you are or where you’ve been. We spent most of that time in the hospital. My dad was a guy that had rarely been to the doctors office and now he lived in a hospital. He checked out on June 5th for what we were told would be a 1-2 week in-home hospice.
My dad had a checklist of things he wanted done. High on morphine and down about 50 pounds he made sure that list got done. He ventured down the stairs to change the water filter. He looked out the window as we straightened a leaning tree that was bothering him. He even went for ice cream on the night of June 7th. I remember a lady asking, “what’s wrong with him?” We ignored it but my dad heard it and said, “this is pathetic.” His fight was anything but pathetic. His fight through cancer and his fight through life. That type of shit is what molds us. Those images and those actions. Death may take our innocence but it can’t take our substance.
When I got the call on the morning of the 8th I wasn’t shocked. He finished his list. He had no more reason to fight through one of the most painful cancers known to human kind. When I got to the house his body was on the living room floor where the paramedics pronounced him dead. It may seem odd but this isn’t a scaring image. I thought it would be. But I just saw a body free from suffering.
In the years leading up to this day we lost my grandfather (2013) and my uncle (2014 to pancreatic cancer). I thought the twenty one gun salute, “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes and taps at my grandfathers funeral was the saddest moment of my life. I was glad to put it behind me. Not thinking I would have anymore loss for a while since my parents were young and I had no more grandparents I moved on pretty quickly. Obviously the next few years did not go as expected. Life is funny that way. There are some things that we just can’t control.
I’ve shared a lot over the past few years. I am a pretty private person so sharing isn’t something I like to do or want to do. I don’t do it for sympathy and I don’t do it for attention. I do it for the people who don’t know the perils of pancreatic cancer. I do it for the person that thinks they are alone in their suffering. Whether that be from a loss or from some other kind of life BS.
We all have a responsibility in life. I feel that we are here to leave this place a little better than how we found it. We have a large community at 410 that wouldn’t be here without my dad. The community at 410 is a family. If you think that is all some salesy bullshit look no further than me. My best friend is my only employee. She knows more about me than any other human on this planet… And I live with one of my coaches (an awesome human named Mike D) as I go through some other life changes. So, when I say we are a family I really mean it. If you haven’t embraced it I urge you to.
I know we have a group of strong minded people at 410 that carry their own pain and suffering. We can feel alone in our fight. Sometimes the voices are stronger than our fight. We feel too far gone and the negative thoughts are too much to overcome. I am here to tell you that it gets better. It may not make sense now and to be honest it may never make sense. Sometimes it’s not meant to make sense. What’s important is that we grow. And that we grow in a way that allows us to affect positivity in the world.
The responsibility of humankind is greater than the sum of its parts. We can’t control the past. The important thing is that we learn from it and grow into a person that can offer some light in a world that sometimes seems dark.
I hope that myself and the 410 community is able to give some form of an example that we can overcome things.