Friday, October 16, 2009

If You Had Three Months To Live -- What Would You Do?

Recently, a long-time friend of mine died of cancer. I had gone to lunch with her a few weeks before she found out she was going to die. When I got an email from her that she needed to speak to me right away, I couldn't imagine that she would tell me she'd just found out she had 4th stage pancreatic cancer and would die within three to six months (it turned out to be just barely 3 months).

Knowing of her presumed fate, she and her husband set out to do some things she had always wanted to do: trips to places she'd only dreamed of previously; visits to the family to make things right; conversations with friends; and sharing the intimacy of her dying process and eventually her death.

Like every passing of one who is close to our heart, my friend's death has left me particularly reflective about life... about it's precious nature. And having died twice myself, and then come back to life, I'm keenly aware that our time here on this planet is limited. Nothing, it seems, provides us perspective on what we're passionate about like dying (odd, isn't it?).

In my case, as I felt my heart stop during the Northridge earthquake of 1994, my life flashed before me like some strange online slide show. What struck me most as I watched it go by, however, was that the only regrets I had were not for things I had done or experienced -- but only for those things I had not done; the words not spoken; the passions not expressed; the dreams not fully pursued.

I've spent my days since, trying to live out what my heart revealed to me in that critical moment. And so, as an exercise... perhaps a mini-workshop in being present to the life that is and what you most ardently feel called to do... what would you do, if you only had three months to finish out your life on this planet?

My hope is that in our sharing, we might awaken the calls within us... those deeper passions that in a significant manner are part of our reason for being here in the first place.

And for those of you who choose to share your thoughts in the comment section below, thank you... I always gain much from what you contribute.

P.S. As always remember that to see the comments in a separate window, click on the "Comments" link. To see the comments in the body of the topic, click "Links to this Post"

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  1. My, what a deep and evocative question.

    There are so many things that come to mind. But most of all, I suppose, is that I would spend more time with my husband. Really seeking to know his soul inside and out. The same with my friends. We share time together, but I'm afraid we so often let the busy-ness of life get in the way of our experience of each other.

    There are places I would go for certain. A beach somewhere -- a place where I could congregate with those who mean so much to me. I would eat and savor food, smells, the morning, the day, the evening and the sounds that I may never hear again. And I would love, make love, be loved deeply, more fully.

    The question, of course, and perhaps part of your thinking in posting this blog, is why not now? Must I wait for news of my own death before I fully live?

    You've given me much to think about. My sincere thanks to you.

  2. Wow, she said it much more eloquently than I can, but I agree with Jane Z. More of the people I love, the places that make me smile, the food that makes me relish life, and yes... more sex. God only knows if there'll be any of that in the after life.

  3. Ah, nothing to brighten up my Friday than the talk of death. I'm kidding, of course. Your post here makes me want to go out and have one helluva weekend, mate. That's not very decent of me, I know, but the thought of this life being cut short has got me all in a dither.

  4. I live my life in the present. I believe if you want to know where you will be in 10 years look to what your up to now.

    For me. I am dying everyday. I will die soon, no doctor needs to tell me. And if a doctor did tell me I would live longer than their prediction.

    Love that song, " I hope you get the chance to live your life like your dying."

    Thomas M Gallagher

  5. Lovely thoughts to all. Reading all of this makes me want to go home and love on my family big time (I always do... but I'll do it more like the man says, "live your life like you're dying").

    I appreciate your posting this.

  6. This is a very good question because the truth is most of us (including me) do not like to think about death -- anyone's death, let alone our own. The question posed by the earlier contributor Jane Z is excellent. Why must I wait till I'm dying to live out these dreams or do the things that I'm thinking of now.

    My list includes moving beyond my fears of intimacy so that I can have a real relationship with my "significant other" as I've been trained to say -- so that I can admit my lover is another woman. I'm so tired of hiding this fact and cannot bear to think of going to my grave with this truth of who I am still hidden.

    Thank you for creating this posting and to those who commented for inviting me to realize this so deeply.

  7. I would dance. With strangers, children and my hidden desires....

    I would invite all ignored and forgotten friends to a massive feast...

    I would write...write about forgotten passions and known longings...and I would love like my life depended on it...

    I would sing like no one was listening and like the world itself was singing....

    I would dance. With strangers, children and my hidden desires...

  8. Thanks everyone, for being vulnerable and sharing what turned out to be some very insightful and often poignant thoughts.

    As often comes to mind for me, life is precious. So lets live each day to the fullest!

  9. Good Evening,

    With three months to live and maybe even shorter, I plan to live my remaining days striving to accomplish what I had originally planned to do with my life after gradguating college. I learned a language, I want to dance, and I want to have a smile on my face. I hope for all of these things.

  10. Anonymous... I wish for you all of what you desire as well.

    As a friend's song lyrics once encouraged, "Dance like nobody's looking, get naked whenever it's sunny, and love like it's all that will matter."

    Much Love, Light, and Joy to you,