I wrote this back in 2007 about my dad’s outlook on life, cancer and other people:
…We found out that my father will probably never be cancer-free. 3-6 months out of the year he will probably be on chemotherapy. But they have not given him a time frame and his cancer tracers in his blood have been reduced by nearly 60 percent. I went to chemotherapy with my dad yesterday and spent some time with him. My father talks with the nurses and other people at chemo, they joke and get to know one another and when one of the nurses is having a bad day they talk to him and it seems to make a difference that he cares about them as real people. Everyone is surprised that he is still working close to full time while undergoing cancer treatment. When I mentioned it to him once he told me that if he didn’t have to go to work, he probably wouldn’t get out of bed some days. When he hurts he figures that he’s either going to hurt at work or hurt at home and at least at work he has a distraction. My dad hasn’t been given a time frame but as he says, “we’re all terminal.” He’s decided not to waste any days, even though the doctors tell him he could have many years ahead of him. There are two lessons in this that I have learned: sometimes we are stuck in proximity with people, so why not care about them? And don’t waste your days, you never know how many you have.
I had forgotten about that until it resurfaced recently… in a very timely manner. Around the holidays we’re often around a lot of people, whether in crowded shopping areas or seeing those family members that you see on special occasions or running into old acquaintances when everyone goes “home” for the holidays. You’re around people whether you want to be or not, you might as well care about them.
When I wrote that bit above, we didn’t know how many days my dad had. Four years later, his days ran out.. and he never wasted the time he had. This holiday season when you’re gathering with friends and family, don’t forget why you’re gathering. Go to be there and actually be with the people there.
I’m not trying to tell you that you may die tomorrow or anything like that. What I’m trying to say is, don’t waste your time.