As I was going through some records, I came across a binder of Dan's medical history. He kept every insurance statement (even though I never understood who actually deciphers what they say), every scan report and every doctor's note. I read through the notes and the scans all the way back to his diagnosis in 2005. Of course there are the requisite medical diagnostics (height, symptoms, etc). But what struck me was the little details- the actual notes of the doctors' impressions of their interactions with Dan. I laughed out loud when one described his "faint dusting of light brown hair" (even that was generous). And I could tell how concerned they were with his situation. One called him an "unfortunate young man". One commented on his calm demeanor and outlook. Often these reports noted that the discussions did not completely center around prognosis, but rather, his golf game, graduate studies, family and travels. It was evident that his doctors felt compelled to remind Dan that the odds of his survival were minimal, but that they, too, were taken with his unfailing optimism and hope. Dan knew the odds, but he just kept going.
What always struck me about Dan was that need to keep moving forward. Or just keep moving. I remember reading in one of Lance Armstrong's books that after he was diagnosed, even after treatments, he would get on the bike or go for a walk. If he kept moving, he wasn't sick. Dan was always moving, always planning ahead and always scheduling things. If he kept moving, he wasn't sick.
I can't help but think that, on an evening like this, when the weather is warm and the sun is setting... he'd come home from work, and we'd head out on a run. He had been training for a marathon when he was diagnosed. Even though he knew he may never run that far again, he still wanted to run. So off we'd go on a little jog. It was never more that the 1 1/2 mile loop on a trail down the block. And it was usually only for 20-25 minutes, running for a minute and then walking for a two minutes. He'd tell me his lungs were burning. But he loved getting out. He even put a little training plan together to maybe get up to a 5k. If he kept moving, he wasn't sick.
I get it now. As with grief, you have to keep moving. If you keep moving, you won't get stuck. If you're moving, you can give yourself a direction. You're making a conscience choice to do something... anything. If you keep moving, you won't sink.
So I'm off to take a spin around the loop we used to run. Just to keep moving.
A Special Message from Doug Ulman
13 hours ago