Four years ago today I was sitting alone in a MRI waiting room when I was told my son was going to die. I was told there was no hope medically. I was told there was no cure. I couldn’t process it. I didn’t understand.
The next day I sat in the hallway outside of Tyler’s hospital room with one of his oncologists. I asked her if she knew even one child anywhere in the world that survived - she just shook her head. I didn’t know the exact spelling of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma so I asked her to write it down for me. Then I got up and walked away.
A few days later I was at a store when I received a call back from an oncologist at Dana Farber in Boston. We had a similar discussion as the one in the hall. He was kind and honest. I hung up the phone and cried - I stood alone in the middle of the store crying.
Four years ago today my son said, “Dad, you’re scared, and if you’re scared then I’m scared.” I decided then that there would be hope – there had to be hope. I needed hope to displace the fear. I knew I couldn’t replace fear – it would always be there - but it had to be in the backseat and not in the driver seat. I knew that what I projected out would be taken in by Tyler.
My wife and I were determined that he would be hopeful. It was hard, but he would never again see me scared. I owed it to him as his father. He knows now, but didn’t know then, that when I would leave his sight I would fall apart. I would go into my closet, turn off the lights, lay on the floor, and cry uncontrollable. Alone and out of sight.
However, I also remember something else that Tyler said that day, “Whatever it takes, Dad.” It was the beginning of him changing from a young boy to a man with extreme clarity about life and what is truly important. He taught me that courage is not eliminating fear, courage is not letting fear eliminate hope. He also taught me how to fight, how to hope, and ultimately, how to die.
February 8th is a hard day – it will always be a hard day – but courage is not eliminating fear, courage is not letting fear eliminate hope.
Cherish every moment.
Whatever It Takes