I don't usually post the same general content on two blogs, but this is an exceptional time and a cluster of very visible cancer deaths seem to be all around us. So the Boobs blog readers who don't always read the Artsy Asylum Blog may have missed what I passed on there.
I wanted to share it with all of the people who I have any reach to - because I believe it's such an important thing that I need to talk about.
Here's where I am. Since December 7th 2007 I'm in and out of hospitals and clinics and medical offices more than anyone wants to be. And maybe as a part of this or because it's just who I am, it's agonizingly difficult for me to see people with cancer deteriorate and die - even those I do not know, or know only slightly. One of these, Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor whose "last lecture" made him famous, died today almost a year after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
In the time leading up to his death Randy looked good, in contrast with Tony Snow's appearance in the months before he died earlier in July of colon cancer that had spread to first his liver and then elsewhere. Tony was gaunt and had aged twenty years in my eyes. My heart hurt to see him.
Then every weekday that Leroy Seivers of NPR writes his blog I get emotional again as I see evidence of a steady decline and that the always insightful and frank Leroy is near the end of his life, as he now weighs the pros and cons of hospice, and has a home health aide four times a week.
But as sadness envelops me, Randy Pausch simply bloomed! In the months before his death Randy was upbeat and seemed unfazed by what the rest of us are overwhelmed by.
And that gives us all something to consider.
When he gave this Carnegie Mellon commencement address in May, he had lived three months longer than the three to six months doctors had predicted, leading a friend to say he was “beating the Reaper.”
“We don’t beat the Reaper by living longer,” Pausch said. “We beat the Reaper by living well.”
My message in reflection:
- Please love others and live well while you can.
- Give generously of yourself and your spirit.
- Adopt a cause or two.
- Be present to what's happening around you and not distracted by the latest shiny thing of the blogosphere.
It's easy to be engaged by internet popularity, blog stats, being included in lists and invited to functions. Things are nice to own. But will that really matter when you face the end of the road?
Like Randy Paush who was only 47, or others we know who were suddenly stricken and died much earlier, we never know when an unexpected diagnosis - or a bus - will mark the end of our time here.
Let's make today even - simply this day - one that we'd be proud to call our last.
And then tomorrow let's get up and do it again.
And while you're doing it, just know that I love you all.