In a couple of hours my family and I will be discontinuing the life support system that is currently keeping my father alive.
He is eighty-six years old, and has been in ICU in a worsening physical condition without hope of recovery.
I’ve been actively wondering what in life has prepared me for participation
in such a monumental decision, or for the expected emotional aftermath of its finality.
And I arrive at the conclusion that, in fact, my father has prepared me for it.
I don’t yet know how, or even if, any such preparation was deliberate on his part,
or just a byproduct of his general influence on my life.
I only know that I derive great strength from my father. Not necessarily because of his own strengths, or even his weaknesses, not necessarily from his triumphs, or his failures, but from the idea that he has survived until now.
Life has thrown a lot of junk at my father, as it has done to many of us, but his being here this far down the road, requiring my participation in his passing, my permission to leave, if you will, has somehow enabled me to survive as well.
My father never complained about the past years he’s spent being physically compromised. He focused, rather, on being as little of a burden on my mother as possible.
I walked alone to get coffee early this morning. Thinking of my father, I fingered his watch, newly strapped on my left wrist, my face wet with tears too long held for him, and I felt the overwhelming privilege of being able to relieve him of his burden in just a couple of short hours from now.
My father will be free.
And he will be with my older brother, Mike.
I know he’s missed my brother.
I’ll survive as long as I can for my sons,
knowing they will one day be prepared to relieve me
of my own burden.