This is my dad:
He’s the one on the left with the beard. Not the asian guy on the right with no beard; that’s Yo-Yo Ma. No kidding, he was chillin’ at a private performance with Yo-Yo Ma a couple weeks ago. That was right after catching Clapton from the second row in Dubai. He’s a wicked amateur photographer and a dragonfly expert and he got his Master’s degree in Information Technology just a couple of years ago. He kind of kicks ass in a really nerdy sort of way.
I found out this morning that he’s probably dying.
Mikey isn’t the only one who has cancer. My dad has a malignant metastatic melanoma taking root in his liver. That’s not a happy after-school-special kind of cancer (if there is such a thing). It’s nasty. To the best of my knowledge the mean life expectancy is about 5 months with current treatment, possibly longer with experimental ones, but generally speaking complete remission isn’t a realistic possibility. I’ve been trying to do research and wrap my head around what’s going on. It’s not working very well because all I can get my mind to do is think of the extremely low odds that he’ll see next summer. Summers are usually when I see him, since my parents only really leave their exotically mundane lives in the United Arab Emirates to come visit when Canadian weather is tolerably warm. That’s a piece of it… there’s my dad and my mom and all they’re going through and the things that rise to the surface of my mind are how this is going to affect me.
I think about missing his advice. I think about the help he gives me with tech stuff and having to muddle through it on my own. I think about the fact that this makes it much more likely that I’ll at some point battle cancer personally. I think about the possibility of insurance money, then I think about what a complete ass I am for thinking about the possibility of insurance money when it’s my dad and feel overwhelmingly guilty.
I think that the term Donald Miller uses to describe this is Self-Addiction. Everything is about me. I am the lead in my own story. Everyone else exists in importance only as their stories intersect mine. Self-Addiction is one of the biggest barriers on the way to living a life of Godly Brokenness, because the Self desires above all else NOT to be Broken. Brokenness is painful and it acknowledges fears and failings and the fact that our Self isn’t good enough. The thing is that I don’t want My Self. I want Jesus’ Self. The only way that I can put on Jesus’ Self and be the person that I’m meant to be is to discard the Old Self. Every time I think I’m doing that, it rears it’s pointy little head and I have to ask myself “who am I to be trying to teach people about God? Is it complete arrogance to preach what I seem to be unable to put into practice?”
I remind myself again that the value is in the journey. The example is in the striving, not the momentary portrait of who I am now. I’ll tell them don’t look to be like me, look to be like the person I’m Becoming. That person will be very cool.
My Dad’s journey is probably ending soon. He’s not perfect, but he’s shown me things like it never being to late to make an improvement in your life, and the value of the focus and drive that I often lack. He’s set an example for me in his amazing work ethic. Most importantly, when he leaves, he leaves me with the legacy of faith that I get to offer my own son, because in the midst of his imperfection, along with other beloved people in my life, he pointed me towards Jesus Christ.