Monday, September 12, 2011

What Would You Do?

A friend of my parents was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A perfectly healthy guy, only in his early 50s. Then suddenly this diagnosis, with a grim prognosis. There is a new treatment which can be life-extending. Who wouldn't want to buy more time in light of being given a death sentence?

Although it's not something I dwell on, the events of the past 18 months as well as having lost several close friends has made me think. What would I do? Would I grasp at that straw, no matter how fragile, to have more time? Or simply enjoy what time was there, to the fullest extent? My theoretical mind tells me I'd prefer not quantity, but quality. Extension of life comes with its drawbacks: procedures, treatments and many unpleasant complications. Is that life? Does the act of simply drawing breath, regardless of negative side effects, make it all worthwhile? At this point it's easy to say "no, I wouldn't want to live longer if I was suffering" but as my friend Paul would say "there are no atheists in a foxhole". I don't think it's possible to truly know what you would do until you are in that situation.

So rather than dwell on the "what ifs" why not think about how I would like to spend my life if given, say, 6 months to live. Exotic travel? Doing all the things I've saved for 'someday', throwing caution to the wind? Buying a boat, sailing off into the sunset? Drawing up a bucket list and crossing things off?

After quite a bit of soul-searching I came to the conclusion that I am already living the life I would lead if I knew my time was very limited. I'd enjoy being at my home. Spend time with Joe, eating good food, cooking, taking walks, enjoying a movie. Spending an afternoon with Wilson. Quality time with friends, one-on-one, with the ability to talk, listen and laugh. Tending the garden, taking care of the house, hanging out the laundry. Being able to take a moment to notice the sunlight on the dewy grass or to watch a goldfinch delicately eating seeds from the echinacea.

This is life. These are the little moments that make it up and the things that make me happy and fulfilled. Of course, they are different for everybody and each person must figure out what makes them happy. I'll always want to learn and try new things but if I was to be hit by that proverbial bus tomorrow I don't believe I'd have any regrets for things I haven't done. And that, I believe, is a life very well lived indeed.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Great post Kim. We all have a death sentence of sorts, don't we? Just some of us are a bit more in touch with ours. <3 We need to catch up!!