Today I got an email from my dear Aunt Margie, one of my dad's sisters. She attached excerpts from the letters my dad had written to her over the years. I felt so touched to read my dad's words, some from when I was only 1 year old, some from this year. I would like to share some of his most recent thoughts with you all. Two years ago, my dad was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. At the time he was hospitalized, the tumor had taken his ability to walk, speak clearly, read, and write. Seeing him like that was a profound experience for me, as was watching him heal, physically and emotionally over the last two years. A few weeks before he died, he had finished his last chemotherapy treatment, and was, for the time being, tumor-free. The experience that the tumor brought him offered him deep wisdom and much joy. Here are a few of his thoughts:
"Jessie told me that when she got the call that I was in the hospital with a brain tumor she didn’t cry, she didn’t break down, she said she felt a calmness overtake her and she felt a strength rising inside her that she never knew existed and she knew that whatever she found when she walked into my hospital room for the first time, she would be prepared and know how to deal with it. That was my exact experience when I heard Dr. Stenet’s diagnosis. Now I am calm all the time and I swear to you all that whether I have two years or twenty left I will live every last moment to its fullest."
The butterfly counts
Not months but moments
And has time enough.
"I don’t know how many moments I have left, but I know it will be time enough."
"More and more, when I do something, I have to face the possibility that I am doing it for the last time. (And the damn doctors think I don’t take it seriously enough.) That thought doesn’t frighten me or make me sad, it just makes everything more significant. For me there are no longer any ordinary moments and one of the things that makes those moments extraordinary is when I connect meaningfully with another human being. So I just want to say that I am so deeply grateful to all of you who came to see me and kept in touch by phone. Maya Angelou says, “Nobody, but nobody can make it here alone.” I think that was one of the lessons I was meant to learn from this experience. I don’t know why, but all my life I thought I could make it alone, but now I know better, and I thank you all for helping me learn that."
I hope my dad's words inspire you as they have me. He is the one who taught me to look at challenges as opportunities for growth. He also taught me to never take for granted the amount of time that we have to live. Joy comes from staying in touch with gratitude for each day.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am still alive.