To Lily (age 18), Emma (16), Sam (14), Louis (11), and Charlotte (11):
As you know, today I am undergoing surgery for prostate cancer.
Although my prognosis is good, and the surgeon is confident, any surgery carries risk.
I’ve never had surgery before, except for having my tonsils removed more than 50 years ago, when I was five years old. My memory of that surgery isn’t very crisp, but I vaguely recall a sparse hospital room and some ice cream.
I’m not completely sure what to expect during my surgery today, and I will confess that I am a bit frightened. In fact, I feel as though I am still just a little boy, scared and lonely.
I am told that I will be given a general anesthesia — I know, that sounds like a military leader — and will sleep through the entire operation. As I await sleep, I want you to know that I’ll be thinking only about the five of you (and, of course, your mom).
Since receiving my cancer diagnosis on April 5, I’ve thought a lot about my life. I’ve tried to live a good and honorable life, but, in many respects, my life has been neither noteworthy nor remarkable. Humanity could get along quite well without me.
But what makes my life truly remarkable, incredibly #blessed, and worthy of continuation is: you.
I’d like to stick around so I can continue to instill the proper values, offer life lessons, and see you grow to become successful adults. (Plus, I want to take you back to Kauai, the place where your mother and I were wed and began this wonderful family.)
You have already proven, time and time again, that you are better than me in so many ways. You are smarter, more attractive, and better athletes. You are kind to others, and have many good friends.
I take great pride in this. In a sense, your mother and I have improved humanity by creating you.
I’ve chosen a song to play in my head during surgery and put me in the proper state of mind: “Strength to Endure” by the Ramones. It’s not a great song, but the lyrics include:
I have the strength to endure /
And all the love that’s pure
My love for you and your mother is pure, strong, and everlasting — and it gives me the strength to fight through my fears, endure my operation, and make a complete recovery.
Being a father, and a husband, is what makes my life noble and worthwhile. It’s the best job I could ever have.
You’ve given me the will to live, and the strength to endure — and I am forever grateful.