Yesterday, sitting on my screened in porch on a beautiful and sunning 6o degree day in Chapel Hill North Carolina my neighbor Mike stops by to tell me a story that reinforces my idea that life is short. Mike is a Brit living here in US for last 12 years. He lived alone but when we had contact with him you always felt uplifted and inspired by his energy and love of life. In the last three years, he had started a Fresh Food delivery service. From the farmer to your door natural foods with a smile. His business was booming and life was good.
As many of us do he had ignored a little elevate prostate number of 4 three years ago. He was implementing a “watch and wait” approach that the doctor recommended. Yet he had not been back for the “watch and check” part of this treatment plan for three years. Who knows why–maybe he was just to busy, or felt healthy or was afraid. Then a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving because of a gall stone problem he goes in for a check-up. Doctor orders some blood tests to see what is going on. The the day before Thanksgiving he gets the “call” we all dread. Hello Mike I wanted to get to you right away because there are some troubling numbers in the blood test you just took. I think need further exams. Your PSI score is unsettling at a 6+ and your Gleason # is an 8 on a 1-10 scale. These are troubling numbers to say the least. He goes in for a biopsy. The results show a fast and aggressive prostate cancer that has advanced into the lymph nodes and bone structure of his body. Mike’s heart stops he takes a deep breath as knees start to shake…he mutters aha shit…and sits down. Now is battle to live life begins. Prognosis not good. What do I need to do? Mike now realizes he will not live forever and ponders– What is the most amazing thing about this experience we call life? Is it that we all think we are going to live forever? Mike wonders out loud –Which is more certain, another birthday this year or tomorrow my death?
So I shared the following poem to just say all our music at some point in live slows down and just accepting that may make this difficult journey ahead a little easier.
Birthday Poem: Life or death- by MW Hardwick
If today my birthday is special, how should I live this day?
The answer, for me, is to celebrate my birthday
Live in the here and now and
Enjoy every breath
Then take this day — my starting point 68 years ago
And live today and everyday as my last.
Be in good cheer, see the bright side of all challenges
Accept my friends and loved ones today.
Live with a clear purpose of having fun today. My special day.
Put aside all the expectations
And just experience what comes today.
Ignore my duties for today.
Cultivate myself today. Be care free.
Live mindfully today.
Be at peace today.
Be happy today. Be patient.
And accept what comes.
If I live this way today, I live in fulfillment and peace of mind.
If I die tomorrow, I die fulfilled with gratitude in my heart.
And in peace. And in peace…peace…