This is something I previously posted, but again, removed for refinement and re-posted.  In reality it should be my second entry, but since I don’t know how to reorganize entries, it will be here, at least for the time being.

It’s funny when I begin thinking about different things, about life, about death, dying and about time – these seem to provoke multiple paradoxes.   I’m sure everyone has heard the phrases “live life to the fullest” and “live like it is your last day”.  In thinking about these I began to wonder, do we really live life or does life “live” us?  It may sound like a strange question, but not so much, at least to me anyway, once one gives it some thought.

The question came to me today while I was replacing a few lights on the outside of my house – one over the garage door and the other two on either side of the front door.   Funny how these things come up in such seemingly unrelated circumstances, I guess my mind is perverse in that way.  Anyhow, I was thinking about the trip home from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore where I saw Ron, a medical oncologist with a PhD and who is also a pretty pragmatic kind of a guy.

It was Thanksgiving eve, 2005 and I had flown up to Reagan National in Washington DC on a one way flight.  To get to the appointment I took a train to meet my Uncle who went with me to the appointment.   At the appointment I asked Ron what he thought about my outlook, after he said “this is a very big tumor”; his response 5-8 years.  It was with those words that I left the hospital.  We drove back to my uncle’s house in Crofton and on the way he expressed some awe at the whole thing, how surreal it was for him.  Funny thing was it didn’t seem like all that big a deal to me, it seemed like just another challenge of added to an already challenging year.
It was with that backdrop that my sister and her family picked me up at my Aunt and Uncle’s house to drive to Chapel Hill for the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was an interesting drive, moderately heavy traffic but in a relatively heavy snow for the area.  Everyone was in the mini-van, my niece and nephews, brother-in-law, my sister and of course me.  The air was fairly light, chatting about lots of different things, small talk mostly; the radio was playing in the background.  As is often the case in these scenarios, there was a pause in the conversation where the topic had played out and a new one had yet to be established.  It was during this pause that a song started playing on the radio, something popular at the time and everyone started singing along, except me.  It was a funny time for the song, kind of like providence was trying to tell me something, to perhaps make the whole of the day real, to cement that which I heard earlier in the day or perhaps to just deliver a message about life. The song was “Live Like You are Dying” sung by Tim McGraw.
I listened to the song, to everyone singing somewhat cheerfully, or at least that’s how it sounded, and thought about life.   I began to think about 5-8 years and what might be for me when it I reached the point, and if I reached the point, where I received the “final estimate”.  From there I began to think about “living life”, about what I would or could do if and when the final estimate is given me.  In doing so, lots of things came to mind, many very different – some stereotypical and others unique to me.   I also felt a degree of sadness because the song brought forth a certain reality, that I have a life threatening disease and, by all practical accounts, was on the statistically losing end of things.  I don’t know if I was ready to hear that song at the time, I’m not sure if I am ready now for that matter, but it did give me some degree of perspective and provoked thought from time to time.
One thing I’ve always held about my situation, particularly after observing responses and behaviors of others, was that while it is very likely I will lose to this disease, that in the end it will have the final say and control of my destiny, I vowed I would not let it dictate who I am, how I live and what I stand for while still on the road to the end.

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