(The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book “10 – A Story of Love, Life, and Loss”, a cancer journey and a story of great love):
I sit back now and, four and a half years later, read my complete story for the first time. It always amazes me how everything looks so different with the passage of time. When we’re in the midst of a problem or issue in our lives, we can feel so lost and tangled, however, the passage of time gives us a frame to see it in an isolated view that allows us to be much more objective. We can look back and see how truly strong we were in a difficult time. We survived!
We learned how to live. There’s nothing like a terminal diagnosis to make you stand up and face your life head-on. It is a challenge to yield to the ravages of disease while living your life in the most wide awake, conscious, grab-a hold-of-it, fully alive way you can. It becomes a daily decision to keep living even as you are dying inside. We learned to be at peace, be curious, be loving, be grateful, and keep seeking new experiences in the stuff of everyday life. Never had the dew on the lawn sparkled more brightly, a friend’s smile seemed so warm and friendly, the sizzle of a summer barbecue smelled more tantalizing.
For those facing it, a terminal diagnosis can make one even more fully alive, for now you know that your unique and precious life is about to be taken away from you. So embrace it with gentle loving hands and pull it close in gratitude. Stand firm and say, “I’m not dead yet.”
And when it comes time to face that final moment, embrace it too with that same complete acceptance, knowing that our end is part of the natural process for all of us. It’s just another step along the way. But let it end with no regrets. Know that you have lived a complete and joyful life being curious, loving, happy, and appreciative of all you have been given.
When Tom was given his terminal cancer diagnosis, he courageously grabbed hold of his life and began to live it with joy, determination, and quality. It wasn’t a dramatic change. Rather, it was a quiet defiance that said, “I am going to live my ordinary life in the face of this disease that is trying its best to dominate and control my life.” And so, he got up every morning, he travelled, he went to concerts, he enjoyed time with family and friends. When he needed to, he rested, he retreated, and then he got up again the next morning to live his ordinary life. And just that quiet defiance that said, “I am going to live today” turned his ordinary life into an extraordinary life, one where every day counted.
So live your ordinary life. Make it extraordinary. Make every day count.