Showing posts with the label Dying

Thinking You Could Die is Scary. Knowing You are Going to Die is Not.

Many scary moments in a thriller center around death.  But the scariest scenes actually are about the possibility of death.  Knowing you are going to die, I have discovered, is not at all scary.  Sad and disappointing, yes…Scary, no. There really are just three ways you can die.   First is the lightning strike.  No time to be scared, just boom and you’re dead.   Second is the scary one where you realize that death is a possibility.  Your car brakes fail coming down the mountain or the big wave pulls you out to sea…or, worst of all, there’s a maniac with a chainsaw.  Those moments when you are in peril and truly do not know if you will live or die are terrifying. Third is my scenario. You know you are going to die and, in fact, have been given a schedule.  In my case it was eight to twelve months.   I have come to believe that this is actually the best of the three.   Unlike the lightning strike, I have time to reflect and to get my affairs in order.  I also have been put o

Planning Your Own Funeral. The Possibilities are Endless.

I’m now seven months into my doctor’s 8-12 month prognosis.  I believe I’m going to be on the long end of that range yet it still seems prudent to do a little funeral planning. I started with the basics: Cremation or burial?  Cremation. Church or elsewhere?  Elsewhere. Traditional religious music or Jerry Jeff Walker?  Jerry Jeff Walker. But then it dawned on me that this is the ultimate party planning opportunity. I don't care much for parties so I would never plan one for myself or request anything elaborate if I had to attend one in my honor.  I’ll be at this one - kind of - but will have neither hosting duties nor the burden of small talk. And this is not just my party, it’s my final party…my last wishes.  No one denies last wishes. So this is like a grown-up game of Simon Says.  If I request that everyone wear a funny hat, then funny hats it shall be.  Who wants to be the dick who shows up without the hat Chris wanted…it was his final wish.  I say “Jump!” and fu

Is it Wrong to Give Postmortem Dating Advice to Your Wife?

Knowing you are going to die presents an interesting question regarding your spouse: Do you provide postmortem dating guidance? A terminal illness is different from the usual situations where a couple dissolves.   Most common of course is divorce.  While you still may have feelings for each other, let’s face it, you’ve thrown that fish back in the lake and she’s fair game for the next guy, Second is passing away at an advanced age.  If I died at 90 and left Carol at 88, I’m not too concerned if she finds a nice old guy to watch Jeopardy with. Third is that sudden heart attack, car crash or, on the cooler side, Grizzly attack.  Anyway, no time to think about whether that guy in her yoga class is poised to make his move. But when you’ve been given 8-12 months, you have some time to ponder this. Full disclosure: Carol has said she has no desire to re-marry.  I know that she is sincere about that and it’s touching but I have encouraged her to keep the possibility open in the fut

Getting Your Affairs In Order is Harder Than it Sounds

A number of cliches kick into gear when your doctor says you have 8-12 months left to live.  One of those is ‘Get your affairs in order’. Some aspects of that are pure logistics. Where do I want to be when I die?  My choice is hospice.  I like the idea of staying at home as long as I can but when it gets intensely medical and unpleasant, I’d prefer not to have that happen in our home.   Dying elsewhere also avoids the “Glad you could come home for Christmas…you are staying in the bedroom where dad kicked the bucket. Sleep well” scenario. Others are the practical things around the house. Where are those furnace filters?  How do you change the lightbulbs in the 15 foot ceiling?  What’s a circuit breaker? And there’s the question of re-connecting with friends whom you haven’t been in contact with lately. That’s a tough one. It seems inconsiderate to leave the party and not say goodbye but it’s a hard topic to ease into: “It’s been awhile. Hope you are well.  Just wanted to let you kn

Play all the Seniors

It is a question of timing.   In basketball, it surfaces when the home team is trailing late in the game.  Fans admire the fighting spirit as their team presses, fouls, and spends timeouts hoping, against increasingly long odds, to pull out the win.  But it gradually becomes apparent that the game cannot be won. At a dinner party, the question becomes obvious around midnight.  It’s been a lovely evening and some fun may still be squeezed out.  But the hosts look tired and momentum is fading. So it comes down to this: How do you know when it’s time to make the graceful exit?  To be neither the party-pooper nor that last guest whom the hosts are just wishing would let them get to bed.  How does the coach know when hope is lost and it’s time to stop fouling, call one more timeout, and put all the seniors into the game, And so it is with my stage 4 colon-to-liver-to-lung cancer.   I want to be remembered as a fighter.  No one wants “Well it got tough and he quit” on his tombstone