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This or That

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

Two weeks. Fourteen days. November 4th, 2021 will forever be one of the darkest and most difficult days of my life. Two weeks later and I still can’t quite wrap my mind around that day spent at the hospital. It doesn’t seem real at all.

For the past two weeks I’ve been drifting in limbo. My range of emotions will wildly fluctuate between the many deep layers of grief. Denial. Anger. Depression. Throw in confusion, doubt, and top it off with a sprinkle of anxiety and you may get some idea of the emotional cocktail I’ve been forced to drink since that fateful Thursday.

I have so many questions. I just can’t understand how it happened and how it got so bad so quickly. In time, God may reveal some answers but right now I’m just struggling to keep myself on solid ground. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe God is good even though the outcome was far different than what I wanted. But if I’m honest this has shaken me. This has shaken my family. Our foundation has cracked and the weight of the season is beginning to show through the weaknesses.

There’s so many things I want to share and say and in time I’m sure I’ll hammer out some measly words, but for the past two weeks I’ve just tried to get some sort of coherency to my racing thoughts. I needed an anchor to something good I remembered about Dad. I needed to dwell on the memories we had together. And there were several things that jumped into my mind.

I’m sitting in the passenger seat of a green, early-90s Mazda Miata. The sun is shining and the canvas top is down and Dad and I are driving to the beach. He’s blasting Don Henley and we’re enjoying the freedom one can only experience in a convertible on the interstate. The boys of summer.

I’m at the movies. Dad and I are walking back to the car discussing The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It was the last installment of a yearly tradition to see the cinematic interpretations of Tolkien’s epic work. We both read the books and talked about them frequently so when the movies came out we were determined to see them together. It was a stunning finish to an incredible trilogy and we discussed the parts the movies nailed and the parts where the books out-shined Peter Jackson’s vision.

I’m sitting in the living room playing a video game on the Sony PlayStation 2. The greatest gaming console ever made (don’t debate me on this because you’re wrong). I suddenly feel a quick, downward tug followed by an equally quick, upward tug on my hair on the back of my head. The pull down barely registered, the pull up stung enough for me to jerk my head to the side.

“This or that?”

“Ow! That!”

Dad would just smile and walk off.

He wasn’t actively trying to hurt me. It was a game. A game that he and I played and since I was the one with hair long enough to pull he always got me. I can still hear him ask that question with that child-like smile on his face. This or that?

When I think about that question in the context of the past two weeks and even the past two-and-a-half months, I can’t help but think about how much I hate *this*. *This* was never supposed to happen. *This* was supposed to be years of life and experiences together, growing closer as father and son. But *this* ripped all that away from me.

I’ve told God I don’t want *this*. I don’t want *this* for me, for my wife and son, for my sisters, or for my stepmom. I desperately wanted *that*. I wanted healing and a homecoming. I wanted more time with him. I wanted to see him get better like so many others saw in their situations. I desperately wanted and prayed for *that*. But I’m stuck with *this*.

I know God is teaching me something and walking with me. I know He loves me and my family and it’s only by His grace we’ve even made it this far. One day, the pain will subside some and we’ll have the great memories we’ve made with Dad to reflect on and cherish. But right now, the hurt is still fresh and too real.

And yet the grace of God is sufficient. The grace and mercy of God is enough to get us through even *this*. It’s powerful enough to move us into a better *that*. I’m hurting, but I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who sustains me even in the worst of *this*.

I’m very much looking forward to the day I can see Dad face-to-face and hear him say, “this or that”.

That, Dad.

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