A version of this article originally went out on Sunday, February 12, 2006 when about 300 people were getting my e-mails and before I was sending e-mails regularly on the first three or four Mondays of the month.
Bob clowning around with my daugher Annie
Last Tuesday, my brother-in-law, Bob, had me laughing hysterically.
To be honest, it wasn’t hysterical laughter, but I laughed a lot and every time that I thought about what he said, I was amused again. That’s why I wrote hysterical; I didn’t know the word to use for what I experienced.
I had told him that my mother had just been diagnosed with uterine cancer. (I can tell you, almost 6-years later, that Mom is fine.)
Bob said he would keep her in his prayers.
The air was a little tense.
Then Bob started to muse upon the idea of hearing that he might have a fatal disease. He said, quietly, almost as though he was thinking aloud, “What a relief that would be!”
I didn’t say anything. (I find that when I can allow there to be space, amazing things can happen.)
As potential positive benefits of hypothetically finding out that he was fated to die became clear to him, Bob got more and more animated. He verbalized a mock phone-call with his doctor, “Really, Doctor, I have only a year to live? Wonderful, that’s just wonderful. Thank you.” He hung up the pretend phone, sighed, looked relaxed in the shoulders, and a sense of content glowed about him.
“If I only had a year to live,” Bob exclaimed, “I wouldn’t be so worried about things. I’d enjoy my meals, I wouldn’t rush, I’d take it all in with simplicity and grace.“
“If I only had a year to live, I could finally just relax and really start living.”
Funny how thinking we’re going to live forever might take some of the joy out of living.
The truth is, of course, none of us know if this is our last year, last month, or last week on earth.
So how about you? If you thought you only had a year to live, how might you live differently?
If I had only a day to live, I would…
If I had only a week to live, I would…
If I had only a month to live, I would…
If I had only a year to live, I would…
Spiritual religious advice: Seize the day. . . if only for a little while.