Never Let Go

I heard the most amazing story yesterday morning.

A friend-of-a-friend (let’s call him Steve) here in Chicago was found in his bedroom a month ago with Diabetic Ketoacidosis, commonly referred to as diabetic coma. It’s a very serious condition, and no one was quite sure how it happened or for how long he was in a coma before his roommate found him. Steve has an insulin pump and so the theory is that it came disconnected while sleeping. At any rate, he was in the hospital on basically full life support for a month until about two weeks ago my friend drops me a line: “Steve’s family is taking him off life support”.

I don’t know Steve; I met him once over the summer while on vacation in Chicago. He’s about my age and he was working hard at his passion, stand-up comedy, doing a show at least once a week. Burning the midnight oil doing what you love while you spend the day paying the bills is something that I identify with. The vacation ended, I went back to Jacksonville, and then I ended up moving to Chicago a few months later. I hadn’t even had time or really the thought to look Steve up when my friend told me he was in a coma. I was sympathetic and truly hoped he would get better, but I didn’t give it much thought beyond that; A cursory Google search informed me that he probably had a good chance of waking up, so nothing to worry about. When my friend told me they were taking him off life support though, I was struck by this thought: that his time had run out before he achieved his dream.

I’m too old to have dreams. Or at least, too old to call them dreams. I call them “goals” and organize them into five year plans. I compromise. But I’m always working on them in some way, pushing them forward inch-by-bloody-inch. Death means that you no longer get to try; even Sisyphus has the benefit of eternity. We don’t get that kind of time.

Steve’s dad is an oncologist. When the doctors in Chicago told him that there was no more hope, he gathered the family in Chicago to turn off the life support. His father then calls an audible and instead flies Steve to Cincinnati for a second opinion. Two days ago, Steve woke up, looked at his dad, and said “What the fuck?!”.

In my brief life I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things. Happiness is as much knowing what you don’t want as what you do want. Every job I’ve quit has been to go work the job I thought I wanted or to leave a job I knew I didn’t want any longer. I’ve moved across the country twice to leave behind the safe and familiar for hope and change. The details are all different, but the “why” is always the same; to get one more inch closer to that dream.

I don’t believe in second chances or miracles. I don’t know what motivated Steve’s dad to mediflight him to Cincinnati. But I’m glad he did. Because he didn’t give up, Steve gets another chance at his dreams. He’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s mostly breathing on his own and talking now. Here’s to his speedy recovery.