I was moved to tears (trying to be stoic but failing miserably) as my cancer contemporaries shared their poignant, sometimes heart-wrenching, largely uplifting stories. My heart flipped with fear as I recalled a latent memory of my abhorrent but effective chemo, awakened by a young woman telling her own story of its impact on her life. I wept with empathy as an older gentleman talked about his malignant brain cancer and how it would soon claim his life (there but for the grace of God I felt). I was choked when a delightful woman spoke of memorising every aspect of her beloved husband's face, and I had a lump in my throat as a woman my age explained why she had sent her son to live with his aunt to protect him from her death and introduce him to a new life, sacrificing the opportunity to spend her precious last months with him.
But the documentary was billed as being about living not dying. And what was so insightful for me was the way that this was borne out in the re-invigorated lifestyles of those with limited time. One of the show's protagonists was inspired to run marathons, another learned to paint. Most felt positive and grateful for the time they had left.
Although I have been enormously blessed with God's healing and am no longer 'terminal', I still felt incredibly connected to their stories. Being given a terminal diagnosis is literally life-changing. I hosted a 'pre-funeral funeral' for friends, family, colleagues, clients and I was blown away by people's love and kindness. It was an emotional experience but I loved it. It was a celebration (albeit an odd one) where I was reminded that love brings us together when the going gets tough.
The lesson in all of this is that one of the many positives of facing death is the opportunity to embrace life. Tear away the daily minutiae and what's left is the good stuff. The brilliant stuff. Faith. Love. Joy. Freedom. The stuff that you don't really see when you're in full-on work mode. The stuff that dying people will cherish until their last breath.
Somehow a terminal diagnosis makes everything more rich and colourful. More intense and powerful. More peaceful.
So if you don't have one, take a lesson from those who do. Don't wait for a terminal diagnosis or life-threatening event to be happy. It may be a cliché but in this case it's true. There's no better time to live.
|Not me obviously|