I’ve listened to it 30 times, and it just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter:
Over the past few weeks I’ve had some close friends and loved ones who have received horrible news of the worst kind. They have lost members of their families or received devastating diagnoses for either themselves or their children. They are receiving the kind of news that you can’t recover from, fully.
Their stories and their lives are bouncing around in my head, and I feel like the best way that I can empathize is to remain positive.
Hug yours. Kiss yours. Hold them close and enjoy every waking minute of this life. Sometimes we don’t know when it will end, or what turns it will take. It isn’t worth it to be unhappy or ungrateful. It isn’t worth it to cheat or to be lazy. Climb a hill or ride a bike. Get outside. Push yourself, mentally and physically, and be spontaneous. Don’t get lost in the details, and be honest with yourself. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy those around you. For all we know, we only get one chance at this, so make it count.
We woke up early that morning. Earlier than we needed to. Nerves, wonder, fear, and raw emotion pulled us out of bed. We drank our coffee without tasting it. We pulled our shirts over our tired heads and we got into the car.
Once we got to the hospital, it felt like an eternity rolled into a single minute. Each tick of the second hand echoed loudly in the brightly lit room, and we knew that the pace of the day was set. It wasn’t long before the nurse called her name, and we all jumped to our feet. We jumped to attention.
The surgery could take as long as 9 hours, we were told. They were going to try to get it all, but there were no guarantees. It’s a delicate surgery, and there’s just no telling what complications they may run into.
And then they wheeled her off. She waved goodbye, and none of us tried to choke down our tears. “Mom”, I whispered. “See you on the other side.”
There’s no telling how long we were in there. There’s no way to recount the thoughts that ran through our heads. I can’t tell you how quickly time passed, or how slowly. I can’t tell you if it was hard or trying or a breeze. All that I can tell you is that I don’t remember a single moment from those hours until we were met by the surgeon.
“We did well,” She tells us. “We got most of it, and she is in recovery now.”
For all intents and purposes, the surgery was a success. They were able to remove the band of malignant tumor that spanned her peritoneum. They removed organs and tissue. They removed anxiety and fear.
“She’s going to have quite a long road ahead of her,” she said “I’m expecting chemo to be unpleasant, and it’s not clear how well she’ll react to the treatment. Now that we’ve removed such a large mass, we can expect that she’ll live a few more years.”
A few more years, she told us. Only a few more years.
When we found her in the recovery room, completely stoned, Mom said with all of her might “I knew I’d see you on the other side!” At that point, she still didn’t know if she had survived the surgery. Either way, she was the happiest that she had ever been. In that moment, she was with her family. She was home.
The following weeks were painful. Those painful weeks tuned into painful months. Chemo sucked. There is no break from chemo when it’s running through your body. There’s no break from yourself on chemo. We kept waiting for the low point, but each passing week, each passing treatment, was worse than the one before it.
Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. Those moments were dark ones, but like all dark moments, they’ve now passed.
The following few years, up until now, have been seeded with wins and losses. Cancer leaves and cancer returns. An amazing attitude, a default to optimism, and an incredible support system lead the way through the darkness. Mom has found herself. She has started to do less work and more soul searching. She follows her passions. She marries people. She buries people. She is a thought leader. She has come into her own. She travels. She laughs. She writes. She looks to the future as if the past doesn’t exist. She knows that her moments will create new moments.
She embraces life because life is precious. She excels at living in a way that none of us can comprehend.
4 years ago today she was wheeled away by the nurse. 4 years ago today we were told that she only had a few years. 4 is more than a few, and we are truly lucky.
Each moment that we have together is important. It’s so easy to take life for granted until you are faced with your own mortality. It’s easy to take your family for granted.
I’ve learned a lot from Mom about how to be alive. Moments are precious and if you don’t seize them, they leave you. If you don’t cherish them, they’re lost.
Being positive through the negative is important. If you’re not smiling, no one will know to smile with you. If you’re not bringing all of your passion to what you do, you’re not doing it right.
Mom has taught me that life is a privilege. Mom has taught me to speak my mind. To hug when I want to hug. Drink when I want to drink. Dance when I want to dance.
The world is better because of Mom and we’re all lucky to have her. I continue to learn from her. I continue to learn with her, each and every day.
Here’s to many more years of living the dream. L’chaim!
Since I was a kid, I’ve paid homage to a special place that I call home. This is a place that no matter where I am in life, I have the opportunity to step back. I have the ability to take a break from reality, relax, disconnect, and enjoy the things that are most important to me; without distraction.
At home, we don’t worry about the clothes we’re wearing, where we’re going to sleep, what we’re going to eat, or how strong the internet connection is. At home, we don’t worry about saying silly things, drinking too much, or offending our neighbors. At home, we listen to music loudly. We dance. We sleep. We relax. We spend time with family, friends, and people we’re about to know. At home, we’re at peace.
At home, we spend our time outdoors. We stay up late and wake up early. At home, we need no introductions because everyone there is the closest friend that you’ve never met. At home, we build community. We work for our food, and we share in the responsibility of making home, home.
At home, everything is communal. We laugh. We sing. We play our guitars and our drums until there are no hours left in the night. At home, we’re comfortable with who we are. At home, we’re all equal.
There is no email. There are no deadlines. Time seems to stand still as if a moment was supposed to last forever. Memories are made. Love happens.
At home, I’m me. I’m not dictated by a schedule. I’m not connected to the internet. I move slowly, and I take my time. I drink beer. I play games. I show my kids what it’s like to exist without creature comforts. I’m happy. The world is perfect.
I couldn’t exist without home. It’s taught me to be humble. It’s taught me to be patient, to work hard, to listen, and to take my time. Home has taught me to relax and to truly be myself, regardless of what others may think. Home is where my heart is. And I’m better because of it.
My world is about communication. There are tweets, emails, work notifications, chat rooms, Skype, Facebook, and any other ping, beep, bloop, or ding that you can imagine.
With so much to interact with virtually, I often find myself not interacting physically. This is a problem.
It’s our duty to be in the present. To be physically and mentally in our space and to enjoy the moments that we have. It’s wrong to be so completely tied into the digital that you miss things that are happening around you. This is something that I need to work on.
Between friends, family, work, and fun, it’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to forget where you are and what you’re doing.
On a larger note, I wonder how many of us do this. Even though we may just be stealing a few moments here and there to CHECK ALL THE THINGS, what effect does it have?
What are we teaching our kids?
If we’re so into many things at all times, what are we missing in the here and now?
How much attention can we really give to what’s important if we’re in a constant state of multitasking?
We all need to reflect on where we are sometimes. For me, it’s this day. Every year.
It’s the day that I get one year older and one year wiser. I usually spend the days before my birthday thinking about all of the things that I’d like to change about my life, and then I try to spend my birthday itself thinking about all of the things that I love.
It creates a truly positive day and gives me the chance to be honest with myself about how content I really am with my station in life.
I just wanted to take a moment on this day to recognize out loud that I’m one lucky dude. I’m completely grateful for the friends and family that surround me at every turn, and completely honored to be a part of this existence. I absolutely love my life and the adventure that I’m on.
As I spend today reflecting on the positives, I just have to say, this is one heck of a ride and couldn’t be more content.