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Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Are You Afraid Of Dying?

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

The doorbell rings. It's Alex, a young boy from the neighborhood.

"Will you go fishing with me?" he asks.

"Sure, I think I can pull that off." I tell the young boy.

We sit on the bank of the pond casting into the luminous water, hoping something will snag our line...Nothing yet.

Alex breaks the silence of the warm afternoon. "Mom says you have cancer." He states so direct.

"Yes I do." I answer back.

"Are you going to die?" with that simple question he casts into the water.

I love kids, so direct, so honest, as life should be. But for some reason adults think it rude when children are so. I think it should be encouraged. It builds honesty and a realistic understanding of the world.

"Yes Alex, I will die someday and so will you, but now is not my time. 13 years ago I was given 3 months to live. I'm still here. So no matter what anyone tells you, they really don't know for sure." I explain.

"Are you afraid of dying?" He asks.

"No, I wasn't then and I'm not now. I have had a wonderful life. Maybe that gives me peace." I answer, as I cast out to the lady of the lake looking for a strike.

Then a long period of silence, as we stare upon the tranquil waters, with 100 year old oak trees reflecting in our gaze...

I was asked the same question 13 years ago by Bob Mazziotte, our Senior Vice President of Little Caesars. I remember that clearly. Very ill, barely 100 pounds, snuggled in bed, the phone rang, it was Bob. "Are you afraid of dying?" he asked with great compassion. Without hesitation I told him I was ready, with no regrets. I think it surprised him.

Sure, there are still things I want to do, places I want to go, and people I want to meet. But if it all ended today, I can say it's been a great ride.

Alex breaks the silence, "If you die, I'd miss you."

"I'd miss you too," I tell him.

"But I'm not dying," he says with a giggle.

"Neither am I," I answer back with a warm smile.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Dr. Swill,

I love that story! And it is all so true. My uncle told me the very same thing. He had 6 months to live with his bout of lung cnacer, that was 18 years ago and as he puts it, his feet still hit the floor every morning. That was a big inspiration for me and kept going to fight the fight!

Maureen said...

Hi Brian!

Sorry I haven't been by to visit in a while. Even when not here, I still think of you daily.

How are you doing? Have you scheduled your surgery yet?

Ya know, I have said it before but it bears repeating. You are amazing and so freaking inspirational!!

So...did you or Alex catch anything? And don't try to say it was a 50 pound goldfish!


Dr. Swill said...

Nice to see you back!

I spoke with the Surgeon's nurse today. She will call me back on Friday so set something up.

No fish, just a warm, wonderful day.




Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi