Don’t Slow Down or You’ll Die

When Bryan was little, a commercial for Cystic Fibrosis came on TV. I don’t know what the commercial was, but it apparently didn’t have a good outcome, because he declared, “That’s not going to be me.”

Anyone who knew Bryan knew he did things almost at a manic pace while trying to cram as many things as he could into a short amount of time. If we had someplace to go, he would get ready, then immediately begin doing 9,000 things when we had 15 minutes to walk out of the door. Ultimately, we would rush out, ten minutes late, fighting traffic, and arrive at our destination, issuing apologies. Bryan would always swear he hated to be late and wouldn’t do it again. We would do it again.

Bryan approached his entire life that way – cramming as many things as he could in a short amount of time because he didn’t want to miss a thing. Because if you slowed down, you’d die. When you have a chronic illness like Cystic Fibrosis, you never know when you will go through a bad patch and wind up in the hospital, forced to slow down. Each visit to the hospital could potentially be your last. So Bryan would push himself. He was always active, always moving, always doing things. He lived each moment as if he were not guaranteed the next. He never slowed down.

Bryan worked when he felt like death, showing up a few minutes late, but always showing up when he could have taken a day off. Taking a day off, though, would mean he would have to slow down and it also meant that he was giving up. For someone as competitive and driven as Bryan, that was unacceptable.

Bryan was able to keep a half-step in front of cystic fibrosis until February, when a complication popped up and landed him in the hospital. We had been in the hospital for a few days before his work buddies showed up for a visit. Bryan informed them he would probably be back to work that next week, ready to go. They informed him he needed to slow down and take some time off to recover. Both sides were firmly convinced they were right. Bryan knew what would happen if he slowed down, and they knew what would happen if he didn’t.

When a spouse dies, one of the processes the remaining spouse goes through is a review of what they could have done differently. So many unanswered questions. In all honesty, though, it wouldn’t have mattered. Bryan did what he wanted to do. He knew his body, he knew his mind, and he knew the risks he took at any given point. He enjoyed every minute, and wouldn’t have let anything get in the way of that. He spent his life having a good time, and made sure others were enjoying the ride with him. And I loved him for it.



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