Friday, September 19, 2008

Cherish the moments

First, a quick note about the previous post with the political fun stuff: this year's election is not fun and must not be taken lightly. Unless you're living in a sterile room without exterior communication of any kind, you have to be aware of the serious financial problems that have surfaced this week on Wall Street. These are not fun times.

I wish there was a clear choice for president, someone who clearly could lead the country out of the muddle we're in. Each candidate has some serious drawbacks. Please. Watch the debates, read the newspapers and news magazines. Tony has links to a number of good Internet resources on his blog. Read. Listen. Watch. And then vote. Whatever your choice, make it an informed one. (Remember that it is Obama and McCain, not Obama and Palin.)

Okay, enough.

I read a lot of blogs daily, none of them political. I found Getting Past Your Past recently and have just begun to dig into some of the author's previous posts. For anyone trying to resolve past issues and dig into a deeper understanding of what motivates us to make the choices we do, this is a wonderful resource. The comments, often in the hundreds, so clearly show that so many others have also traveled this route. Youc an read about the author, Susan J. Elliott, here.

Her poignant and shocking story yesterday about her husband's very sudden plunge into a life and death struggle reminded me yet again that today is all we ever have, regardless of our age or stage in life.

Last fall, my only brother had a major seizure that threw his whole life into a state of turmoil and angst. It was the first and only time this had happened to him (and may it always be so), but in the seizure's ferocity, both shoulders were damaged and one required surgery to fix. Because he travels in his work, he had to rearrange his entire work flow and life rhythm. Of course my dear sister-in-law was worried sick, as we all were, and that takes its toll in how we live each day as well. He has pretty much recovered from that, but I can see in his face what it did to him emotionally.

He's had another big life blow lately too -- the big C word. We are of the generation that remembers a death sentence being handed down with the diagnosis, and while this is emphatically NOT the case here -- his is tremendously curable, treatable, and has not metasticized -- you can never quite shake off that fear. It is a reminder, not a gentle one either, that none of us are going to get out of this alive, and that some of us go more quickly than others.

He is in treatment and will, I am sure to my core, come out of it cancer-free. But it will change him. I know his ice weasels must be partying like a fraternity on spring break, and I pray he will find a place of peace as he walks through this valley. We walk beside him and are holding him in our hearts, but ultimately we each have to face our own fears and griefs by ourselves.

One of my college classmates, a very well-known businessman, died a few weeks ago at only 60 years old. I hadn't seen him in years, and we were never close, but his death is another reminder that life is short, often too short. I am sad for his wife, who I also knew, and for his children who are about my children's ages.

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie-Mellon professor who is famous for "The Last Lecture," died a few months ago at age 47. In his last months, he left a legacy to his children, and to everyone who will read his little book. It isn't profound truth -- it is simply to treasure your days, try to remember and realize your dreams, and cherish what you have and the people you love.

I'll tell you, at 60 I am SO not ready to contemplate dying. I feel like there are so many things left that I want to do -- places I want to see, that book to write, lots more fun and parties to attend, photos to take.

And in all of it there is the overarching lesson: CHERISH THIS DAY. Do all you can where you are with what you've got. Tell people you love them. Be gentle with yourself. Be loving to your friends and family. Tell them the things you want them to know NOW. Let go of anger and resentment. Treat each day kindly, and seek help to get through the hard times.

We never know what the day may bring. Give thanks for everything you experience, even the hard stuff. You're still alive to deal with it. You have second chances and new beginnings. Again. Thanks be. Blessed be.

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