“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’”
~Winnie The Pooh~
I have gone blog reading crazy as of late and chanced upon a blog not too long ago that has made a very big impression on me. I think as soon as I can stop crying, things in me and around me may drastically change.
The author of this blog asks “What would you be doing if you knew you had only 37 days to live”? When I saw Mr. ASIJ watching a “Live Like You Were Dying” for horse lovers video this morning, I instantly thought of the 37 Days blog and knew I wanted to write something, anything, cause I am full of thoughts and words I need to get out.
Let me repost here the author’s article on “Why 37 Days?”
In October of 2003, my stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 37 days later.
During that 37 days, I helped my mother care for him at home, since he wanted to die there. Never having been around someone dying before,I didn’t know what to do. When my father died, I was just 19 and sitting in the intensive care waiting room. No one asked if I wanted to be with him; they just asked if I wanted to see him dead after it was all over. It was the beginning of a long realization of how intensively we avoid death, at least in this culture.
But, back to 2003. It was at once profound and awkward, as if I were visiting in a place I ought not to be, hearing things I ought not ever hear, and dispensing morphine as if I knew how. He very soon lost the ability to speak, which made it both easier and harder. I was scared and anxious all the time, not knowing what was coming next. There was no manual that I could find, no prescription for what he was feeling and doing, how his insides were eating him up. I couldn’t tell, and very soon into it, he couldn’t tell me either.
Everything I could possibly think to talk to him about was so petty as to be painful. Would he like to watch a movie, I would pantomime?What? And have Hugh Grant be the last thing he might see on earth? The newspaper failed, the ads for supermarket bargains not relevant – but what was?
At night, I could hear the oxygen machine making its move in and out as I waited for it to stop. And, finally, it did, after his feet started turning blue and we watched the blueness march all the way up the 6-feet and 4-inches of him.
The time frame of 37 days made an impression on me. We act as if we have all the time in the world – that’s not a new understanding. But the definite-ness of 37 days struck me. So short a time, as if all the regrets of a life would barely have time to register before time was up.
And so, as always when awful things happen, I tried to figure out how to reconcile in my mind the fact that it was happening and the fact that the only thing I could do was try to make some good out of it.What emerged was a renewed commitment to ask myself this question every morning: ‘what would I be doing today if I only had 37 days to live?’
It’s a hard question some days.
But here’s how I answered it: Write like hell, leave as much of myself behind for my two daughters as I could, let them know me and see me as a real person, not just a mother, leave with them for safe-keeping my thoughts and memories, fears and dreams, the histories of what I am and who my people are. Leave behind my thoughts about living the life, that “one wild and precious life” that poet Mary Oliver speaks of. That’s what I’d do with my 37 days. So, I’m beginning here.
Wow! My question to you is: HOW do we live like we only have 37 days to live? HOW do we live like we are dying?
Living in the moment maybe? Yes, there are still bills to pay and noses to wipe and lawns to mow and back yards to clean up. Yes, there are still dirty dishes in the sink and dust on the bookcases and piles of paper everywhere to sort through. I still have to get up Monday morning and go to work when I’d much rather be rocking in the living room crocheting with my family sitting around me. I’d much rather be cooking up something that my daughter and husband love to eat. I’d much rather see the smiles on their faces than sit in my office and bust my butt for a paycheck. So how do I live this day to day mundane life yet find the juiciness of every moment?
I remember the night my mother died. I had NO IDEA she was going to die that night. The doctor had said she could go home from the hospital but would be bedridden for the rest of her life. I know she would have hated that kind of life, but having her home in bed was better than not having her at all. I think she left us because she was just too tired to fight anymore. Not that I blame her, but she’s been gone over 20 years and it still seems like yesterday.
Do you know what one of my greatest regrets in life is? I never took my mother out to lunch. I realized this one day while out eating at a restaurant alone and all of a sudden it seemed like sitting at every table was an older woman and a younger woman. A mother and a daughter. I got a big knot in my throat and couldn’t even eat anymore. I had NEVER taken my mother to lunch. Such a simple thing but something we never shared and I will never have the chance to share that experience with her. I take people out to eat all the time now when I have an extra dollar or two, its just something I like to do. But I never did it and never can do it with the woman who was the most important woman EVER in my life and the person who had the most influence on me.
Maybe this is an example of living like you are dying or only have 37 days to live. What have I never done that I will regret not doing if I died in 37 days? It doesn’t have to be big stuff like skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing, stuff like that. It’s the little stuff that makes up our days that makes up our lives. True?
Yesterday on the way to work I was listening to the Rick and Bubba Radio Show on Y102. I only caught part of it and didn’t catch the man’s name but he was talking about “the small stuff”. It’s the small stuff we should pay attention to because it’s the small stuff that all adds up to become the big stuff!
Oh yeah, the name of the author of 37 Days is Patti Digh and here’s a link to her blog:
I’m going on over to amazon.com to buy her book “Life is a Verb” now.
Email me if you live close by…and I’ll take you to lunch.