“I’m gonna live till I die”

The last month or so has been traumatic, eye-opening and the motivation for great resolve.

In the last several weeks I have been aware of several tertiary friends, acquaintances and friends of friends who have died quick deaths in strange circumstances. In addition, I have three or four good friends who are suddenly battling big, serious illnesses. Then last week I was diagnosed with a skin cancer that I am sure will be fine, but it was one more slap in the face and the consciousness. Nothing is guaranteed to us. This remarkable ride we call life can end with the next breath.

Obviously, further fueled by my wife Jean’s death last June, for the last few weeks I have been telling friends that my new mantra is a very crude expression of Carpe Diem, Seize the Day. I must make the most of every day in every way.

Monday morning I had breakfast with a very funny, upbeat friend who has had a years-long struggle with cancer. He had just gotten up off the mat from a serious side effect of chemotherapy. He was his normal cheerful self, but midway through his Eggs Benedict he turned into Frank Sinatra and stared singing “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die.”

In a tenor that will not win him a recording contract anytime soon, but with considerable passion, he sang:
“I’m gonna live till I die!
I’m gonna laugh ‘stead of cry,
I’m gonna take the town and turn it upside down,
I’m gonna live, live, live until I die. They’re gonna say “What a guy!”
I’m gonna play for the sky.
Ain’t gonna miss a thing,
I’m gonna have my fling,
I’m gonna live, live, live until I die. The blues I lay low,
I’ll make them stay low,
They’ll never trail over my head.
I’ll be a devil, till I’m an angel, but until then Hallelujah gonna dance, gonna fly,
I’ll take a chance riding high,
Before my number’s up,
I’m gonna fill my cup,
I’m gonna live, live, live, until I die!”
I was moved and thrilled by my friend’s attitude and it completely affirmed my Seize the Day philosophy. We simply cannot worry about what other people think or say about us. We cannot hurt people and we must not beself destructive but we can definitely “fill our cup,” and we must. We can fill our cup by making a difference with our work, through our example and in the ways we love each other. We need to follow our own rule book and not worry about all the people who tell us we “should” do this or we “should not” do that.Do me a favor and reread theĀ  lyrics of “I’m gonna live until I die” every day. Decide at the end of every day whether you kept the blues low, whether you had your fling, whether you rode high and whether you filled that cup with all the good you have done for others. That’s what I am going to try to do, because “I know not the time or place. “

Tim J. McGuire is the author of “Some People Even Take Them Home,” A Disabled Dad, A Down Syndrome son and Our Journey to Acceptance.