Life Without Purpose Is Not Living At All

Guest Blogger: Jason HedegardWhat a whirlwind month.
I haven’t been so shaken and unbalanced emotionally since my wife’s pulmonary embolism during her stem-cell transplant over 10 years ago. Losing my father at 64 years old has changed my thought process entirely these last few weeks. I feel a strange clock hanging over me now, ticking incessantly, and reminding me of how little time I have left.
I’m dying every day, a little at a time.
That’s what my doctor told me last week while he examined my torn hip labrum. (In addition to the hernia, which has been repaired, and the torn adductor muscle that isn’t healing as fast as I would like.) He didn’t use those words exactly, but his message was clear. I’m no longer 18, and shouldn’t pretend I am. By the way, my injuries were all sustained at week twelve of a 5 day-a-week cross-fit boot camp, while racing against a 21-year-old “ultimate-fighter”.
We tied.
He walked away in perfect shape, and resumed his normal schedule. I went to see multiple doctors.
Yesterday was my father’s memorial service. He passed away August 6, two days after his 64th birthday. Billy Graham just got released from the hospital in good shape at 94 years old. That means potentially I had 30 years stolen from me. Thirty years of time with my dad. Fishing trips with my son Asher, that he won’t be a part of.  A trip to Africa for a safari that we talked about for almost two decades.  Watching him hold his great-grandchildren.  Reminiscing about places we lived growing up. The tragedy of memories that are shared between two people, is that when one of them dies, the other person is left holding them alone. No one else appreciates them or understands them the same way. And time moves on, and the memory fades. Every new memory I make with my children, is another memory they will be left holding alone one day. As it always has been, and will continue to be. That is depressing. That is what I feel today, in sadness, in pain. While this is a temporary feeling for me, it is the reality that the world sees in the absence of a Heavenly Father, who knows better than us what is really happening.
This world is not our final destiny, nor does it hold value to those who have already experienced perfection in their new heavenly home. It doesn’t even get an honorable mention.
My father died just like his father, although one year earlier. In addition to hypertension, arterial sclerosis, and heart disease, my father was found to have atrophy of the brain, or shrinking. This can be displayed as moments or patterns of dementia. No one knows if, or when that dementia started to show up. I found some pretty nutty “Things to Do” lists when going through his papers. Some seemed crazy. Some things seemed pretty normal, albeit grandiose.  There was a touch of genius in my dad, sprinkled with a reasonable measure of eccentricity.
My concern, is will I recognize any of these symptoms in myself if they develop? I have taken on some pretty ridiculous projects in my day. I have a long list of things to do as well. Some are small repairs around the house. Some are big-ticket items that are important to me that I want to put on a calendar as soon as I can. To travel across Europe with my wife. I need to see the vast River of Grass, Pahayokee, and the Everglades with my daughter Madison. I need to explore QianJiang, China, with my daughter Ansley, to retrace where a frightened and distraught name-less mother left her before sunrise under a bridge. I don’t know where my son Asher will express a desire to visit, or what activity with me will emerge as significant to him. And Sabal is only 4 but seems to be content so far with just sitting on my lap reading books with me.
And I treasure every minute of it. There is no dementia in those plans. Those are the plans that make my heart beat every day. There is no other life that I sacrificed to become a husband/father to this family. No alternate path, or dual-course that could rival this one.  I just want it to slow down. To make the ticking stop for a while, so that I can catch up, and enjoy each moment slower, more fully. I want to study the faces of my children, so that I can remember fully each phase and stage of their growth. I want to go back and visit them again later, to see my thirteen year old while she is still five, and hug her again. I want to hold hands with my wife again at 21 and walk down Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.
I want to cradle Ansley in my arms while she smiles at me with her big beautiful eyes.   I want to drive down our old dirt road in Loxahatchee on an ATV with all four kids balanced on the fenders and seat while we sing songs. And life continues to move along, fast. Lord, help me to live today to the fullest. Not to let the fear of losing the past ruin the present or the future. Help me to balance my life today, so that I can unclog the bathroom sink, and earn my keep at work, and cherish my family, while I convince someone near me to remove the blinders that produce regrets. To show them that life without purpose or intent or love is not really living at all. And most of all today, to soothe the pain that feels so debilitating, from the void that losing my father has created.


In memory of Darryl T. Hedegard

Guest Blogger: My hubby, Jason Hedegard

RIP D. We love and miss you much.


  • Anonymous

    Wow. That was amazing. You put it so appropriately and those of us who have suffered heartbreaking loss, but never knew how to articulate it exactly, appreciate this statement, “The tragedy of memories that are shared between two people, is that when one of them dies, the other person is left holding them alone.” So very, very true and so very, very poignant.
    I am sorry for your great loss.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so sorry for you and your family’s loss. I’m also sorry for not calling to send my condolences to you and your beautiful family. I’ll try to remedy that later today.
    I can sympathize with you, having lost my father but at a much younger age. We didn’t have the time to make as many memories. I hope you continue to cherish those memories you and your dad made together for the rest of your days, and share them with your children.
    You are an incredible person Jason. I know your conviction will deliver you to a place where the depression doesn’t sink you down so low. A place where you can unclog that sink and cherish those close. I know because your friendship and your incredible guidance has helped me remove some of my own blinders.
    I’m fortunate to have worked with you for as long as I did. Over those 3+ years I not only enhanced my skills for work, I learned about real responsibility and leadership. Those qualities you possess must have come from from a real special place. Thanks man, and stay strong.

  • Jan Hilker

    You touched my heart. These are so many of the thoughts and feelings i have since losing my mom (87 years old) three years ago. Be blessed.

  • Jennifer

    I lost my father when I was 28 and he was 59, just a few years younger than his own father when he died. I regret my husband never had the opportunity to meet my father, or that any children I may bear, will not know grampa. My “first dance” at my wedding was filled by replacement fathers, though during my dad’s time in Hospice I did create my own first dance. Nonetheless it was a moment in time and memory stolen from me. My father is in my bones and blood, walking with me through each day. I hope I make him proud and live fully so that he too lives fully.

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