Have you ever made an eight hour drive to spend three hours with someone, only to have to turn around and drive the eight hours right back home?
I have. It’s grueling, but worth every mile.
Back when my father was first diagnosed with terminal cancer, I knew it was going to be hard for me to be with him as much as I wanted since I lived 500 miles away and led a very busy life raising four children, working full time and running a business on the side. I was talking to one of my closest friends about how hard it was living so far away and she gave me some of the best advice of my life. She was still recovering from the death of her mother who had been diagnosed with ALS and was gone within months of the discovery. My friend told me that the loss was tremendous, and with her gone, there were days that she would do anything to just hug her mom. And she told me that if I woke up one day needing a hug, or just wanting one, then I should make that eight hour drive to my dad, no matter what it took, because one day I’d no longer have the option.
That advice stayed with me the entire 27 months that my dad fought the disease. The miles just ticked away on the odometer as I packed the kids in the car, drove all day, showing up sometimes for the night, other times just for a couple hours. Of course we squeezed in some weekends, too. But sometimes, it was just for a hug.
Now, I no longer have that option. I can’t get in the car and drive to see my dad because he’s no longer with us, at least not physically. And it feels good to know that I didn’t waste the opportunity to hug him while I could.