Life is short. How many times have you heard or said those three words? My guess would be often. It’s easy to say the words— to let them go in one ear and back out of the other. It’s hard to truly understand that simple sentence…. Life is short.
The shortness of life was made abundantly clear to me in 2013, that’s when cancer finally defeated my mom. It was a third round knockout. Round 1, she was in her 30’s, she beat ovarian cancer. Round 2, she was in her 40’s, cancer was back, she won. Round 3, mom felt dizzy, she went to the ER, she died 10 days later.
Mom went for cancer scans every four months. She said it was a small price to pay. Her only complaint was that she had to drink a nasty cocktail before the scan. “It makes me want to puke” she said. She drank it four times a year, every year, for 20 years.
I would get a little nervous before the scans, but not too nervous, mom was invincible. After 20 years, mom was beating cancer. The last scan before she died came and went. She called and said that everything was fine.
Shortly after the last scan, she called me and asked me to drive her to the hospital. She was feeling very dizzy and it was starting to worry her. It unraveled fast from this point.
After several days at the ER, we found out that she had cancer in her liver duct. The prognosis was bad— months to live. The next day when I showed up, the doctors said it may be weeks, at this point, mom wasn’t speaking anymore. I had my last cogent conversation with her the day before, it was about a Wendy’s frosty. The following day she came home with hospice. I held her hand while she died merely three hours after getting home.
One thing that I learned about my mom during the 20 year cancer battle was that she was a happy person. With every reason to be bitter, she wasn’t. I mean, mom was a non drinker, non smoker, vegetarian with cancer. She was happy at work, most of the time. She was happy around family, most of the time. She was especially happy when she became a grandma.
When I think about how everything went down during those three days, I can’t help but to think about the “life is short” cliché. The three-day downturn put things into perspective for me. Simply put, you have to let yourself be happy.
Think about what truly makes you happy. No, really, stop reading for a minute and really think about it. Family? Friends? Leisure? Whatever it is, do as much of it as you can.
I’m not Dr. Phil or anything, but here are a few things that I took away from my mothers death.
– Don’t worry about things that you can’t control. Really think about how much you do this
– Get out of your comfort zone and do things that you wouldn’t normally do. Are you afraid of roller-coasters? Ride one.
– Don’t settle for miserable. If you hate your job, find a new one. I don’t mean recklessly quit and starve your family, but look. How many people hate their jobs, but never apply for new ones?
– Start every day thinking about something that makes you happy. That’s an easy one, no excuses on this one.
Time flies— life is short— all are true clichés. Don’t be miserable while it passes you by.
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