It was a week of sleeping, eating, and breathing work. The last week before the semester’s commitments force me to plan and schedule and measure my time. A last attempt to finally capture that key result I’ve been grasping at all summer, which has slithered away each time I brush against it. A week ending in another confusing negative result and collapsing in bed discouraged and exhausted. I wasn’t prepared to be awoken early Saturday by desperate phone calls from my mother. Or to pack my bags and rush to the next state. I did not expect to be a brave, strong adult who picks up the phone at the doors to the hospital ICU and states “I’m here to visit my father in room 408.” I never imagined calling my baby sister in her first week at college to let her know dad had had a massive heart attack. Or sitting for days fixated upon a green line on a screen, worrying or resting based on the shape and number which represent the life in Dad’s heart. And as much as I was not prepared, life in the ICU quickly became routine. Dad miraculously recovering, becoming more himself, ever interested in small talk. A large event, which everyone said should have taken his life, yet he was still interested in the small. “Is it raining outside?” he would ask. We readily participate because truly, when you brush that close to losing your dad, when you see the strongest, healthiest man you know so vulnerable, you would do anything for him. One day he speaks words that run deep, at least in my heart. “Don’t you wish you had stayed in [math/engineering] instead of going into biology?” He is cut off by the nurse coming in, but his words shake me to the core. This man whom I love dearly and so nearly lost, is he proud of me? Does he approve of what I am doing? I remember years ago, the glimmer of pride in his eye as I solved difficult math problems he made up on the napkins at Dairy Queen. Or the academic awards of high school, the engineering internships at his company, or being accepted by his alma mater for a PhD program in engineering. When the grad school situation crumbled and I ended up 22, jobless, and directionless, I learned to listen to the voice of another Father who is proud of obedience and dependence and trust. A Father who holds power over the universe, yet makes sure that I get exactly what I need to step into his will. Ironically, his will was not for me to leave academia permanently, but to re-enter it as a missionary, this time in the biology department. My pride no longer needs me to have a PhD, but my Father does. And so in this emotional week, my earthly father’s words echo deeply. I almost want to throw this biology PhD away in order to make him proud of me again. But I am faced with a question of loyalty. While I can and will love and cherish and hold my father’s every day as a gift, my first loyalty is to my heavenly Father. To make him proud is the highest calling and most lasting reward of anything on earth.