I lay there, speechless. Exhausted. Shocked. Worried. Had I really just heard that? What would I do with my kids? My house? The pets? It all came at me so fast, as if I had been smacked head-on with a baseball bat. I repeated the words over and over again in my head: “You have one month to live, Mr. Dale, and there is nothing we can do. I am sorry.” The doctor had spoke those words so easily to me, as if it was the norm around here, and then just left me there, too stunned to move. I rolled over onto my side, and reached as far as I could to get the phone. I dialed my mother. When she answered, I told her that she needed to bring my three children, my dad, herself, and our dog to the hospital right away, for I needed to tell them something important. Her voice was timid as she wanted to know what was going on. “Everything will be alright, mom.” I told her, “Just bring everyone down here; we need to talk.” I dropped the phone back onto the receiver, and stared up at the blank ceiling. On each tile up there, I saw a different memory of my life painted on to every one. Tears started to flow from my eyes as I missed my wife who had passed away three years ago in a car wreck. I imagined myself outside, perfectly healthy, with all three of my beautiful children, wishing it was real. Charlie, who was now 7, Brianna who is 10, and Cayden, only four. They were the most precious children of all, and I couldn’t bear to think of them living without me. Without their mom. No real parents at all. It all seemed so wrong to me. And it was wrong. No child should have to live without their parents, or even just one for that matter. I waited about twenty minutes until I heard the soft footsteps of my children and my parents walking into my room. My mother hurried to me and asked if everything was alright. I paused. I looked at all of my children, their gorgeous faces, their soft hair, the precious smiles they usually have. Then I turned to my dad, who had raised me to be the man I am today. The person who taught me to be strong through any situation. I took a deep breath, and dried my eyes. I told them to come close; they did. “My hour glass is almost out of sand. In one month, all the little grains of sand will pour through to the bottom, and I will be gone. Mom and Dad, I want you to keep my children with you as long as you can, and raise them well, like you did me. And when you get to old, I want you to find them a great home, with a loving family. Keep them all together, and don’t EVER let them be separated. I love you all, and I need you to stay strong for me, okay?” I looked at my parents. Mom started sobbing, and my Dad’s fists were clamped tight, trying to control his emotions. I had the three little ones come up and sit with me, holding them close. Charlie and Brianna knew what I meant, and they couldn’t believe this was truly happening. But little Cayden had no idea, and that made me sob more. In a month I would disappear, and he’d have no clue as to why. Cancer was the reason. I had battled it for two years, now, and I lost. I let my guard down and lost. So what I am saying to you all, right now, is this: live your life to its fullest, remember all you can of the good, and no matter what, never give up until your hourglass has completely emptied.
April 12, 2010