Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm dying.

I'm dying. My days are numbered. I realize that we only have a certain amount of days to use at our disposal. When confronting our demise, it can often make us reflect on what we do, where we have been, what we could have done, and what to do with the time we have left.

Now before I cause panic or anyone to wonder about my health, I am okay (as far as I know). I am still waiting on the results of my recent cholesterol test, maybe then my worries may shift. (Sorry Mom if I spooked you.)

I am not in a melancholy state of feeling like a pierced Goth kid who sees death as a perpetually looming reaper. Although it did not help that I awoke today with no voice, and a cold like I have not seen in ages, I still am not doing too badly for a 45 year old dude with many miles on him.

I guess what started the inspiration for this installment was indeed the fact that I remained home from work and was watching the Today show. I was watching a segment highlighting the story of a family in which the mother (of 2 young girls) was fighting, to no avail, stage four cancer. It was heartbreaking as the mother’s main worry was that of the welfare of her children. More so, she lamented missing “moments” with them: proms, weddings, vacations, and grandchildren to name a few.

The piece also highlighted an organization, to which the name momentarily escapes my memory that will help provide vacations, moments mind you, for the families of the terminally ill. They offer them a fond memory and a reprieve from the ravages of the illness for a brief period in time. It warmed my heart, and I commend these people for their fine efforts.

I listened to her newfound wisdom of making the most of the time she had left, and her deepened appreciation for the “small stuff” that used to pass her by. I stopped to reflect on that poignant realization. “Oh my gosh”, I thought. We are all dying. Maybe we do not know when exactly, but do we have to become confronted with the finish line to start to practice the wisdom now obtained by the ones who have been informed of their time remaining?

I also thought deeper for a moment. Who are the actual lucky ones here? (With absolute compassion and all due respect) I wondered which life was more coveted: one that is long without awareness to its gifts, or a narrowed timeline with a deepened appreciation of life’s blessings and a love for each individual moment. Quite a toss-up isn’t it?

Without being dark or macabre, I want to remind all that we are indeed dying. This I say without the intent to sadden, but to uplift. Many proceed through their timelines without knowing the date of their departure. That is the way it should go, right? Our schedules, the small stuff, and trivial circumstances flood our days, leaving little room for desire, or urgency for that matter, to take time for the important stuff. The stuff we would so trade a king’s ransom for if we had one more day at the end. More time to do the things we would do, if we all knew our departure time.

Since many of us are lucky (or unlucky, depending on your viewpoint) to not know when we are leaving this earthly plane, perhaps it should truly spark more urgency than less. One who has been handed a terminal health obstacle for example can immediately get on a shift in perspective and start to gain closure, reconnect, or simply appreciate the things we the oblivious procrastinate. Many of us, myself included act as if we are drinking from a never ending well. What if God decided to call us home next week? What if it was tomorrow? What if it was this evening? How would you act? What would you do? Who would you surround yourself with? What are your loose ends?

I realized a few things today:

Time is a precious resource. If we compare it to money for example, we can spend it. In both we can dole it out to achieve what we need to do, and trade it for accomplishing things. Like money too, sometimes we trade our resources for wise things, other times not so wise. We can save it. Through planning and frugality, we can economize things we do in order to maintain as much of our precious resources as possible to use at a later time. Both time and money should not all be blown on a whim or foolishly. Lastly though, we can waste it. However the grave difference here is that there is a possibility to make more money, blessed would we be if we found a way to print more time.

Things left undone. Are there experiences that nag at you, calling for you to try? Is there somewhere you have always wished to visit? Is there a class you always wanted to take? Is there a book still unwritten within you? Have you always dreamt of seeing Europe, maybe the ocean, maybe simply another city? If your time was greatly limited, what would you do? Are you a parent? I never heard of a man on his deathbed saying, “Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office!”

Things left unsaid. Do you have any “I love you’s” still trapped inside you? How about any “I miss you’s?” Perhaps you may have accumulated an “I’m sorry” or two. Often we hear of people who regret that they were never able to release the burden of words left unsaid. Take your own inventory. Is there anything that needs to go or be shared?

Many of us do not know exactly when we will leave this big blue marble. Even those who are burdened with physical or health obstacles may not always know the exact time of departure even when knowing their time is more limited than others. I feel that we can all agree if we knew our time was going to be shorter than we expected, we would be prompted to take on an urgency to wring the most life we could out of our remaining moments.

Like the song by Tim McGraw advises: “Live like you're dyin'.” Don’t wait until a difficult diagnosis or loss of a friend or loved one, prompts you to an awareness you can engage now in this moment. Although I am not sure if I will try skydiving, I will try my damndest to appreciate my moments here more. I will try to recognize the gifts that lie before me, and will try to be more frugal with my time.

Since I have now spent enough time in front of a computer, I think I will log off and live a little.


Momma Fargo said...

Good reminder to us all! And also in the same category as your mom...glad you are OK. :) I knew where you were going with this one, so I wasn't worried.

YogaSavy said...

I spent 3 months with looking after my father in law. I quit my job here and went to India. My husband is the only child and lost his mother a few years ago.
An amazing experience. He opened my eyes to what was important and precious. I spent every minute of my day devoted to him. I saw him through the different stages of death. All he ever wanted towards the end was to be in his own house and surrounded by us.
Since then my life has changed. I owe this to him.
So am glad there was a gentle reminder which made a difference. Hope you are doing better. Take care

Marilyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marilyn said...

I say that everyday...and everyday I realize we all play this dangerous game...the game of let's pretend we have forever. The day I realized my mortality was the day I changed my life. Ever since then, I have not been the same and I also have never feared another person, after all, they are dying too. When you lose the fear, you can grow and live and do the impossible that everyone tells you you can't do.

I want to die with plenty left on the plate...and never arriving at a final destination...and never ever ever do I want to know it all. There is so much joy in learning something new, meeting someone new, and learning is why we are here to begin demonstrate our real need of each other. To love. The material game, is just that a game of fame and money which is a distraction from the greater commodity, relationships.

Great post and I hope it creates a wonderful discussion...

Lena said...

I believe we often forget that life is unpredictable and we leave too much for tomorrow. But tomorrow might never come... and it is better to live your life now so that you would not have any regrets that you have things left undone and words left unsaid.

bigskygirl said...

First time visiting your blog. I recently wrote an entry called, "I See Dead People and they don't look 'good'." 8 funerals since December. I learned when my brother died at 26 that live isn't guaranteed and I was in fact mortal, not invinceable and time is indeed short...early lesson as I was 23. I was so shattered, I nearly followed him. But instead I decided he had given his life to help me learn to appreciate my own. And yes, I keep getting reminders and feel blessed every single day I awake not in a hospital and not yet knowing the when and how part of my own demise.

Thanks for sharing. Good writing. I was an Examiner writer for awhile myself in Montana. Live in Michigan now.

Ginny Little (

Anonymous said...

The world needs more people like you, Tony. Hope all's well. God bless.

Charlene said...

It's a good reminder. Even as a kind I've tend to have the opposite problem - constantly thinking about my own mortality. But even still, there are times I have to remind myself about what is a priority and what is not. What I might regret not doing.

And now, I have spent the last two weeks at my dad's bedside as he loses to cancer... aware that while there are no "loose ends" whatsoever, I'm just not ready to be done spending time with him.