That was the last daily motivational email my father ever sent, February 3, 2015. Just a few days earlier he had been operated on due to an intestinal obstruction—a major surgery, coupled with a large incision in his abdomen and bad news about the spread of his disease. My father had begun recovering at his usual speed—faster than expected—when suddenly he encountered a roadblock. The area was infected, and the doctors and nurses had not figured that out. An irregular heart rate was our only sign. An angel nurse insisted on transferring him to the ICU despite not knowing what was wrong with him. Before long, my father went into sepsis. Up until that day, he had kept up with sending his daily emails. He was so committed to his work and to spreading a positive message that he would send his emails even if it meant he had to dictate them to me and have me send them for him. I was always impressed by his commitment and follow-through. Joachim de Posada always did what he said he was going to do.
But on this day, the infection had spread so quickly that his organs were shutting down. My dad was dying. He was becoming incoherent and losing strength. He could not move and could barely speak. Many doctors tried to assess what to do with him. He was a lost cause, they thought—covered in tumors, his heart at risk, and his infection spreading into his bloodstream. He was probably not strong enough to make it through another operation, but they finally decided to surgically remove the infection. I was instructed to have someone bring me my father’s living will. The nurse looked at me and said, “You’re father is too weak. His medical history is terrible. He is covered in tumors. He has a large incision in his abdomen. His organs are failing. His heart is failing. You must understand that you’re father will not likely come out of this surgery alive.”
“You haven’t met my father,” I told her. I came back into the room, stood by his side, and talked to him only minutes before he was to be wheeled into the operating room. I whispered in his ear how much I loved him and needed him, and how I wanted him to overcome this and get through this surgery. I begged him to be strong.
He did not respond to me coherently. I believe he was having hallucinations. I looked at my phone and realized it was a Tuesday and my father had to send his daily email. For the first time he had not remembered to send it. My heart sank. It was a realization of just how ill he was.
But I could not let him falter; I was his partner. In my desperation I felt if he sent the email, things would not change. He would overcome his illness as he had in the past.
I anxiously reminded him about the email. As he was being prepared for surgery, I opened up his laptop and asked him, “Dad, what do you want to share on your daily email today?” He just shook his head; he was too weak. I wondered if I should send an email on my own. Think, Caro. Think. Say something motivational. But I was in too much pain watching my father’s situation. I couldn’t think of anything.
As I solemnly closed his laptop, my dad’s finger summoned me over. My dad and I had a strong connection; all he had to do was move a finger and I knew what he needed. He often joked that when he saw me walk through the door, it was like seeing an angel because I was the only person who could understand what he needed when he could not communicate on his own. He would make a hand gesture, and I knew he needed ice, or to be moved, or that he was cold. So when his one finger moved, I put the computer down and put my ear close to his lips. I expected more nonsensical rambling, but instead he whispered, “I know what I need you to write.”
“For your daily email?”
“Yes.” He paused, took a few moments to catch his breath, and slowly said:
“If it is to be, it is up to me.”
Seconds later, a team of nurses and doctors wheeled him out of the room, leaving me by myself in an empty ICU room with a laptop. I typed his words and pressed SEND.
What a man he was. He knew how much trouble he was in. He knew he might be dying. But he accepted responsibility for what he had control over. He had always accepted responsibility for his successes and failures. He took matters into his own hands. He did not leave the important things in life to chance.
But now his body was failing him. He could not control what his doctors were going to do or how his organs and heart and body would respond. All he had control over was his mind and his spirit—sometimes that is all we have. He made a decision to hold on to his life. He was not ready to leave. He stood by his principles and spoke from his heart.
Needless to say, he survived that surgery—much to the surprise of those who were caring for him. Months later, we encountered the same nurse who had pulled me aside that day. She took one look at my father and said, “Oh, my God. I remember you! Your daughter knew you would pull through. She told me I didn’t know you and that you would make it through the surgery. And she was right. I will never forget you two.”
After his surgery, I put his laptop away and concentrated exclusively on caring for him. He was under heavy anesthesia and it took a while for him to wake up. His body slowly started recovering—an intense time. 6 days later, he was finally talking and thinking clearly. He looked at me and asked me if I could send his email for him. I was thrilled. He was coming back! As he started to dictate, his words caught me by surprise:
Dear Clients & Friends,
Upon reflection, I have decided that due to current projects that I want to prioritize at this moment, I will temporarily stop sending my daily motivational emails.
What? “Dad, why are you stopping your emails?” My heart ached. I feared he was giving up his fight. He looked at me and said, “Caroline I need to focus on recovering now. I have to concentrate on that, and all the energy I have left will go into the book you and I are writing together.” He continued to dictate:
“From now on I will send emails from time to time as I can. As always, one must walk his talk. Following my own principles, I’ve realized that I must focus on the things that are of most priority right now. Most importantly, I expect my latest book, LOVE, DAD: How To Divorce Your Spouse Without Divorcing Your Kids, which I am co-authoring with my daughter Caroline, to be out by June, 2015. Have a wonderful and productive week.”
He knew the road to recovery was going to be difficult if not impossible. And he knew he could not commit to sending emails every day. He was not willing to break his commitment. If he was not capable of sending an email everyday, he would notify each of his readers. My feelings of disappointment turned into feelings of respect. He continued to make decisions in line with his moral code.
Those last months of my father’s life were extraordinarily difficult. They took a huge toll on him and finally, after a long battle, he told me on June 9th that he was ready to leave this world. He was at peace but he was done living in pain. He died on June 11th, but I remember his last email distinctly:
If it is to be, it is up to me.
He lived by that philosophy until he died. I look back at his message and think how ironic it was that his goal was to finish our book by June, 2015. It was June, 2015 when he left this world. I feel that leaving was his way of bringing out the book, as the book has been writing itself since he left.
My father lived by his principles and commitments. He did what he said he was going to do. His final motivational email was the most appropriate way for him to end them.
If it is to be, it is up to me.
Joachim de Posada always did his part. Always. And he taught me to do mine. I write this post today to say that I will continue to spread my father’s message and keep his memory alive. Joachim de Posada led a life of example—one that will inspire many to take their destinies into their own hands. My heart is heavy with my father’s loss, but my spirit is buoyant with purpose. To quote my father:
“From now on I will send emails from time to time as I can. As always, one must walk his talk. Following my own principles, I’ve realized that I must focus on the things that are of most priority right now.
I thank you for reading this, and hope you’ll join me in honoring my father’s legacy.