Within minutes I started to feel my throat loosen slightly. Within a couple hours, I was breathing fairly normally.
The rest of the day was a whirlwind. I had a few more breathing attacks before we got back home to Salt Lake City, this time with AJ and Tobi there to join in the fun. Luckily they were nothing that I wasn’t able to get under control.
At different points I told all three of them, “I really thought I was going to die. And all I could think about was Noah.” And those were the only words I could ever get out before the waterworks took over for good. I don’t think any of them ever knew just how certain I had been that death was inevitable. I also don’t think any of them ever knew why I kept wanting to make that point.
I don’t know if I really knew why it was such an influential point to me.
I suppose it’s because I realized for the first time ever that death really will come for each of us, and that I am no exception. I also realized that when death does come, each person is going to have to answer, whether they like it or not. They’re going to have their final thoughts. They’re going to think about whatever it is that they think about in that moment. They won’t have any control over those thoughts. I know I didn’t.
So why did I think about the two things I thought about? Why was my son and his lifetime of happiness mixed with his lifetime of sadness for me not being there such a dominating thought in all of this?
I don’t know. But if I had to guess, when we stare death in the face, we’re going to think about our biggest priorities, our greatest loves, or our biggest regrets. And for me, Noah is my greatest love and my biggest priority. I could have told you that before, but not with the kind of conviction I now have. I thought I loved him before, but in this entire experience, my love for him has grown in ways I never would have suspected.
And as beautiful as the Noah dynamic was in all of this, the powerful reflection I got to experience in regards to my life was among the most incredible of my life.
We spend so much of our lives declaring “this is what I believe!” We live our lives the best ways we know how. We seek happiness. We search for truth. And we learn to stack our beliefs and actions in such a way that we can look death in the eyes and be okay with our existence.
Two years ago, had I been through this same thing, I don’t think I could have felt “okay to go.” Even though I was living everything the best I could, I wasn’t living what I truly believed, and that would have left me thinking only about that which I regretted most. It would have left me thinking about my role in the self-degrading fraud that my soul was. It would have left me pondering the wasted time and the beautiful things I never experienced.
Thank God for miracles.
Yesterday was a miracle in so many ways to me.
It was a miracle that I didn’t die. And the truth was, I probably wouldn’t have died nor was I probably ever in real danger of dying. I just felt like I was, and I couldn’t be consoled out of it.
But the bigger miracle was the glimpse I had of where I currently stand in life. And it was a beautiful glimpse. It was a glimpse that taught me more about my role as father than anything else. It was also a glimpse where, unlike the first 30 years of my life where I never felt good enough, I felt like I was everything I was supposed to be right now. And I liked that feeling.
I liked it a lot.
We all die, you know.
And when death comes knocking, we’re all going to have to answer. Each and every one of us.
I just hope we each can live our lives in such a way that when that time does come, we like the thoughts that enter our minds. I hope we are all being true to what we really believe inside instead of to what will make “everybody else” happy. I hope we can all look back and realize that the people we loved most were the people we should have loved most.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. Even 24 hours later, I can appreciate that there was a lot of funny stuff that happened during all of this. And Brandy Girl was there for every bit of it, helping me through. Tomorrow I’ll blog about the funny side of it all.
And I would love your comments today. If you were to look death in the eyes right now, what do you think you’d feel and think? Have you ever thought you were going to die before and if so, what kind of thoughts did you have?