It’s been over a year since I’ve been confined to my house. A year since I’ve opened a window or even stood in the hallway of my building.
It’s been over a year since my parents came with me to my last “outside the condo” doctor appointment. We left there knowing I wouldn’t return... wouldn’t go outside or travel home. Dad asked where I wanted to go, what I wanted to see before I walked back into my house for the last time.
So we went to get McDonald’s french fries and the three of us sat on my patio, soaking in the sunshine and feeling the perfect breeze, until my breathing got to the point where I couldn’t take it any longer. Then we went inside and I’ve been here ever since.
We talked about a lot of things while sitting on the patio. We talked about the change that was happening, the choices I no longer had. We talked about things to come that I would miss, like graduations and weddings and birthdays and funerals. We talked about acceptance and trust and faith.
I just had no idea I would have to put those things to the test so soon.
Despite knowing how random my own life had become with my illness and it’s repercussions, I had no idea that randomness would spread so much further. That randomness would take my dad.
The autopsy showed that my dad was as healthy as we all thought he was. His heart was in perfect shape. He didn’t have a stroke or heart attack or any other thing that would take someone so instantly from this Earth. My dad, the farmer who spent his whole life outside and was probably bit by every bug imaginable while working in the fields, was stung on his toe while they were out on the lake.
He was stung on his toe, and they think he died of anaphylactic shock. He had no symptoms other than the sting hurting. His throat didn’t close. He didn’t get a rash. They think his blood pressure just dropped until he was gone. One minute he was flirting with my mom, the next minute he said he might not feel well, and the next second he was gone.
I keep thinking he should have lived for at least twenty more years. He should have. But the truth is, there are no shoulds in this life. I know that. I’ve lived that. I know that life isn’t about what we think we deserve, but rather it’s about fulfilling our purpose while we’re here.
Dad did that every day. He fulfilled his purpose by paying attention to HIS purpose. Dad lived with intention, and while the sting of an insect seems random to us, there are a million things Dad did in the weeks leading up to his death that show us there is nothing random if we listen to the urging of the Spirit.
The people he visited and took care of, the trips he made to see his children, the tasks he completed around the house, the way he took care of mom in extra measure. That day they stopped and visited friends that live on the lake, and before he walked out of their house he turned back... hugged them... and asked aloud for God to bless them.
Intention. Not random.
He didn’t have a prompting in his spirit and think, “I’ll get to that tomorrow. I’ll visit them tomorrow. I’ll bless them next time.” He felt an urge and he acted.
I want to live with that kind of intention. Google says 1% of people die from anaphylactic shock. While his death may have been random, his life was anything but. I tried to remind myself of that fact while I sat in my house and watched his wake through a computer screen.
I tried, while watching his funeral on Skype, to remember that I can’t live my life thinking in shoulds. That I should have been there. I should have had the chance to say goodbye. I should have touched his hand. I should have stood with my siblings as they draped the white cloth over his coffin. A coffin I never got to put my fingerprints on and leave my mark for him. I should have hugged my mom and held my sisters’ hands while telling my brothers how much he loved them.
So many shoulds. So many things that seem like a basic human right. But that’s not how life works. Life works with acceptance and trust and faith.
Just like we talked about on the patio.
I am trying to live with that intention.
I just didn’t think I would have to so soon.