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  • Drew Dotson

One step at a time

“Here,” an ICU nurse said as she handed me Ramón’s Fitbit.


He’d just been situated in the ICU after his cardiac arrest. While they were stabilizing him, I was being sent home.


I was disappointed about the Fitbit because I knew Ramón would want to keep wearing it. Later, we would get a kick out of reviewing the data during his post-arrest medically induced coma. What would his sleep tracking show? And what about his heart rate?

I reluctantly took his Fitbit and made a mental note to bring it back when the hospital called to say he was awake. I knew he’d be eager to resume his hospital lap-walking to meet his daily step goal.


He never wore it again. Bless my heart.


I started wearing Ramón’s Fitbit at some point last year because I broke mine. It seemed like the practical thing to do, though I bet other grievers would agree that those are some of the harder decisions — what to do when logic says one thing and emotions say another. I forced myself to face the fact that Ramón would not be wearing it again. I could let it gather dust or put it to use.


Recently, Ramón’s Fitbit stopped working. I ordered a replacement but, just for the heck of it, I logged into his old Fitbit account today. I did this once a few months after he died. It sent me into a tailspin because the data stopped so abruptly. I could identify his increasing heart rate and the exact minute he took his last steps.


Today, though, as I prepare to say goodbye to his Fitbit, I looked at the big picture.


Ramón took 3,189,428 steps while wearing his Fitbit. That’s somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 miles, depending on how much of it was walking versus running.


I wonder how many of those miles were spent on our twice-daily dog walks, how many were logged hiking in the mountains, and how many were simply Ramón’s trips back and forth to the kitchen looking for food.


I am grateful for the steps he took and the steps I’ve taken since losing him — both on foot and in life generally.


Each step propels me as I chase dreams and continue healing. Taking steps, literally and metaphorically, means taking charge.


Walking through an orchard at a wedding in upper Michigan in 2018

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