Exactly one year ago today it was a pretty sweet Friday. I was pretty swamped at work and had a couple of calls scheduled that I needed to be focused on and I had my day worked out to almost the minute to make sure I was able to accomplish everything that needed to be done.
Out of the blue I received a text from my dad. He’d just spent a week in Rochester with a friend of his and was on his way back home. Seeing as he’d be driving by he wanted to stop in to see me. I almost said no due to how much I had going on but figured I could find a way to make it work. After a couple of quick calls and emails I was able to squeeze in some time to hang out with Dad, but it wasn’t going to be much time.
It never occurred to me that Dad had never been to our new building. While on his way he didn’t quite understand my directions (probably a mix up on both of our parts) and it took longer than expected for him to arrive. At this point I was getting nervous thinking about how much time I’d have with him before I had my other calls.
Something inside me told me to relax and everything would work itself out. Once Dad got there he got to meet the team, see my office, and we spent time in my office shooting the bull. He told me some stories about the week he’d just had, the chair he’d just bought, and things along those lines. We had a great time, but in the back of my head I kept thinking back to all the things that were piled up for me to accomplish.
At some point I must not have been hiding that nervousness very well and Dad picked up on it. After a little while he said it was about time for him to head out. We wrapped up the conversation and he said good bye to the team and we walked out to the hallway together. Wrapping up our time together we did what we always did when we first saw each other and when we said good bye. We shook hands, pulled each other in for a huge hug, and said either “Love you dude” or “Love you bud” to each other. As per the norm we exchanged the hug and love you’s and then I followed him out to his truck.
Once he got in and started to drive away I waved and smiled. Something deep in my head asked a weird question, “what if that was the last time you saw him?” I knew I’d been distracted with work stress, but we’d spent time together, laughed and smiled together, said “love you,” and ended with a hug… all the way we’d done so many times in the past. I smiled to myself and thought about how if it was the last time of course I’d have wanted to spend more time, but it was a pretty awesome time together just like normal.
As it happened, that truly was the last time I ever got a hug from my dad.
After we realized he wasn’t going to make it I’d thought about this moment a lot and thought about how much I wish I would’ve spent more time with him. I’d wished I’d taken more time with him and cancelled everything on my calendar to spend more time with him. For a little while I beat myself up over this. Not in a horrible way, but in that “what if” kind of way.
One day shortly after he’d passed I heard Pastor Reiff’s voice in my head. “Don’t be sad he’s gone, be glad for the time you had together.” That’s when it hit me. How awesome that we always shared that welcome and goodbye… How awesome that I still remember that last hug, the toughness of his hand, the strength of his other arm around me… How awesome that I still have that moment burned into my brain… How awesome that we had that last opportunity to spend time together in person… How awesome that Dad and I had so much time together…
Of course, I wish Dad was still here and I totally understand now when he’d tell Nick and I that he’d give almost anything for just one more day with his dad. That said, talk about ending on a high note. The last time that Dad and I spent together effort his stroke was an awesomely ordinary visit in which we did the things that we always did. I am so thankful for that last hug, I will carry that moment in my heart and soul for eternity. Whenever I think of that moment I no longer feel sadness over missing my dad. Rather, I feel extreme joy because it reminds me of the love we shared.
Dad, I wish we could’ve had so many more of those moments. How cool that we were able to wrap up our time together on Earth in such an epically ordinary way for us? Love you bud and am looking forward to the day we can hug again!