I recently had a small cancerous polyp removed. It did make me think about my eventual death. We are all going to die one day. Perhaps from cancer. Perhaps suddenly in an accident. Perhaps after a long life. It is inevitable and for most of us that is the only thing we know about our death.
The uncertainty of when and how that death comes is a cause of anxiety. I think if I were to learn that it’s over — the cancer is unbeatable — I might actually feel relieved to know when my life will end. That sounds morbid, I suppose, but I look at it as a silver lining in a bleak cloud.
At age 42, I was depressed thinking I might live a lonely, solitary life. But then I found a wife and we had two kids with marvelously peculiar intellects. I am lucky. If I never live another day, I am already lucky that I have what I have.
I decided not to waste a moment fretting over the treatments or the outcome. Why worry about things that we cannot control?
What we can control with the time we have left is to try to leave an impression in the memories of those we encounter. Will we be remembered as lovers of life? bringers of joy? What gifts will we leave behind?
I cannot will myself into being charismatic, in the vain hope that more people will attend my memorial service. I’m not George Bailey. “I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be.”
I cannot make up for the missing years of earnings. Not now. And how important is it to my survivors whether I leave behind $10,000 or $100,000? They will know that I left behind all I could.
The one thing I can do, if I spare the time, is write to them — yes even though they share my home or even my bed. I can write to them as if I were speaking beyond the grave and say those things that would be too quickly forgotten if mentioned in a mundane moment.
I would tell my wife that her companionship has come to mean more to me than her beauty.
I would wish for my daughters that they have children of their own, so that they can learn that each new child is not just a playmate to hold and tease and tickle, but is a fresh pair of eyes to see the world anew and a friend for life as well.
What they will want after I am gone is not something to remember me by, but rather they will want to remember how I viewed them and how I made them feel.