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.”
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!”
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!”
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.