I've known since I could put a word to it. My dad is tough. Where others back away from the unknown, he has nurtured a life of constant challenge.
I watched him work relentlessly for 15 years, ascending to become one of the top Masters runners in the country. Tough. I listened to his stories of trial and victory on big mountains and rock walls. He lost good friends up there, and still returned to face down the demons. Tough.
We found out earlier this year that my dad has cancer. Agressive, inoperable prostate cancer. The treatments are limited and focused on putting years in front of what doctors say is an inevitable end. The slow, sinking reality that he might not be tough enough to win this one... is a weight too heavy for words.
Sometimes I fall into self-pity for the fact that, after years of emotional distance, my dad has become my friend. We discovered common ground on our bikes, putting several thousand miles behind us the last couple summers. As the pavement disappeared, so too did the baggage and the anger and the insecurity. It's been enlightening.
I promise myself and him that we'll be out on the bike next summer, even if I have to pull his ass in the trailer. But will we?
I'm not even tough enough to consider the question.