Another Chapter

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. ~Seneca, Roman philosopher

Seneca may have said it first, but it was Semisonic who set the phrase to music and I simply can’t see those words without singing them. But I digress.

After three beautiful years in Austin, TX, and 15 years in Texas in total, my husband and I have moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Why? {That’s the ONLY question that has thus far followed that statement, so I can only assume you are curious too.}

Well, it’s a little bit sad, really. But it’s okay. And I’m now able to tell the story without turning into a puddle of tears.

A little more than a year ago, my dad called to tell me he was sick. He didn’t know, at the time, just how sick. He just knew he had a tumor in his femur and he’d keep me posted when he had more information. But he was scared. I heard it in his voice. And I felt it at my core. I was scared too. Terrified, really, like I’d never been before.

The fears turned into a harsh reality when the nasty “C” word we all dreaded finally came out of the mouth of one of his doctors. Specifically, lung cancer that had metastasized to his femur. Devastating. And yet, we held hope. What else could we do?

Well besides copious internet researching, searching for vitamins, oils, alternative therapies to cure him. Reading every book written. Bargaining with God – making promises to be a better person if only dad would be ok. All of which I did.

The rollercoaster ride was a wild one, involving an incredibly complicated surgery to remove most of dad’s femur and replacing it with a titanium rod, pins, screws, and bone cement (who even knew that was a thing!?!), radiation, chemotherapy, experimental therapies, vitamins, essential oils, pills of every shape, size and color. Oh, and all the banana popsicles the man could eat. It also involved lots, and lots of trips home for my brother and I.

The year was hard. Without a doubt. It contains the most painful days of my entire life.

And the year was magnificent.

We spent every holiday together. We spent random days together that weren’t holidays. We had a big birthday party for dad and he even got to fly to Austin for a Father’s Day getaway. A highlight from this last year was Christmas. It was the best Christmas we’ve ever had together, full of special gifts, food made by dad, games of Cranium, stockings stuffed with surprises and so, so, so much laughter. Looking back at those days my heart could almost explode with love. It was such a precious and important time. And I can say with gratitude, that we savored every second of it. Hoping it wasn’t, but knowing it could – be our last.

It was.

Dad had been doing incredibly well. So when my brother called me at 1:20am on Aug. 2nd, I was in no way prepared to hear the news he’d just gotten. None of us were. You’d think we would have been somewhat ready – knowing how sick he was and that a cure wasn’t possible. And yet, I simply couldn’t make sense of the words. It seems so strange now, but I literally kept running the words through my mind trying to get them to make sense. As if hearing it enough times would suddenly give it new meaning. I guess I wasn’t looking for new meaning, so much as I was looking for new words. For someone to admit there was a mistake and he was still alive. See, THAT sounded right. Yes! He is alive. THAT made sense.

So how does our move to Minneapolis fit into all of this? I read an article (here is the link if you want to read it too) shortly after dad got sick that was a real eye-opener, about how little time is really left and the importance proximity plays in how much time you will spend with the important people in your life. My husband Dave and I talked and though leaving a stable job and a thriving business in Austin was scary, we agreed that we could always make more money, but we could never make more time. And we were in the process of moving back home when dad died. In fact Dave was already here, about a month into a new job and living in the house we’d purchased. I was back in Austin wrapping up real estate transactions and turning things over to a new agent. We were moving to MN to be closer to family. To be closer to dad so we could spend more time with him.

Funny, isn’t it, how we make plans based on assumptions that things will be a certain way? And then we’re so shocked when the ending isn’t how we planned it.

My dad’s illness reinforced a lesson that I’ve been working on learning my whole life. Live your life, day by day. Be grateful for the moment you’re living right now. It’s all there is. It’s the only thing that’s real.

Dad’s death has left with me so much to think about and a lot of important lessons I’m still processing and working through. But the two that bubble up in a big way are:

1) We aren’t the plan makers. Which is a little disappointing, because dang it, I’ve got some pretty great plans! But it’s also a huge relief.

2) Our time is short. No matter how old you are, or how old the people you love are, you have no idea when the phone will ring with news you don’t want to hear. I don’t say that to be dark and to cause fear, but as a reminder of the preciousness of life. And the frailty of it. Old age isn’t a promise. And that “someday” may never come. So do it today. Whatever IT is. And say it now. Don’t wait for the right time. THIS is the right time. And as corny as this may sound, whatever the question, make LOVE the answer. Love everyone around you as much, as hard, as loud and as proud as you can. It’s a choice you’ll never regret.

IMG_1514As sad as I am that my dad will never text me back, never drum his fingers on the dash of his car, hum another song, or braid my hair again, I can say without question that he left this earth loving his family and friends with his whole heart and knowing just how much we loved him back. And in the saddest moments, knowing he knew how much he mattered to me, and how much and how deeply I loved him, is what brings me peace.

Slow down. Savor the fleeting moments. And love every single soul you meet on your path.

We’re all just walking each other home. ~Ram Dass

6 thoughts on “Another Chapter

  1. Thank you for the powerful reminder that outcomes are not always (or rarely) as we plan, our lives are in the moment and to make time for what really matters. Best if everything…

  2. Melissa,
    You’ve made the right choice following your heart, and your words soothe our loss of your immediate presence here in Austin. As a lifelong traveler I’ve learned to accept when paths split and those people we love and admire disappear from view. I’m just so grateful I was lucky enough to live in a place you were curious about! Meeting and getting to spend the time I have with you has been a gift. You’re so easy to love…

    Your friend and big fan,


    1. Oh sweet Bill! What a lovely note! You sure know how to make a girl light up from within! Your friendship is a treasure and I’m beyond grateful that our paths crossed. Thank you for sharing your story and for being a part of mine! XO

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