This year I dedicated myself to placing importance on choosing wisely. Choosing balance, choosing health, choosing my work and my passions more thoughtfully. It was all going very well.
Until February 7. That’s when I received a call I had been hoping would never come.
Those close to me knew that even with my day-to-day running smoothly, there was a cloud covering our family. My father was suffering from lung cancer, and the call that day was to come to Florida, fast.
In that moment, my mind froze. Kind of like your computer does when you have too many windows open. I felt the walls spinning, almost like tunnel vision. Inertia. I knew this day was coming, but like everyone who loses someone important in their lives, I was pushing it aside mentally.
After hanging up with my mom and taking a deep breath, I started looking at my calendar. I was mentally shifting things around, “If I move that, I can do this…”, etc. It wasn’t even thoughtful or logical.
Then it hit me. I stopped in my tracks and said, “What am I doing?! I have to go…now!” I realized there was no way to negotiate my time, no way to meet my many commitments. So I surrendered and said, “I know where I need to be, I know where I have to be, and, most importantly I know where I want to be most, right now.”
With a few clicks I found two tickets for my aunt and me to fly from Arizona to Florida. We got there in 24 hours. My mom had prepared me so when I walked in, I knew what to expect. We were near the end.
I had chosen wisely.
That day I helped my dad eat lunch, and we sat together on the couch. As I searched the channels, he stopped me on Seinfeld. We watched it together and had a good laugh. He held my hand. I knew what he was trying to tell me. I knew. Trying to keep things cool, I looked over with a smile and said, “Dad, this whole thing really sucks.” (Sorry.) He nodded his head with a well-known, sarcastic grin. He then looked over and said to me, “You know, Christine, it’s been a pleasure…”
That is probably the last conversation I had with him as the following days were filled with hospice and high emotion. I can’t even begin to explain. I was there more than a month following his passing.
What I learned was how truly wonderful people are when you are at your worst. My colleagues were generous in covering my classes. My clients were beyond understanding about my commitments. My friends and family were at their absolute best. Most of all, my husband stepped in without hesitation when I literally dropped everything; he was a pillar of strength. My 10-year-old son even helped soothe my pain after I delivered my father’s eulogy.
Looking back now that things have calmed a bit, I realize it was the best choice I ever made. I wouldn’t trade that last day for anything. I’m proud we left nothing unsaid. And, honestly, the pleasure and honor were mine.
Moral of the story: Follow your gut and intuition, ask for help, have faith that those around you will understand. Doing this gave me that very important day. I would choose the same again in a heartbeat.
Continue to #choosewisely.