I just got back from visiting someone who has been told she only has, at most, two months to live. In spite of that, she is in good spirits – definitely better than I would be under the same circumstances.
Of course, that may only be a way of staving off everyone’s emotion and a tidy way of keeping conversation light and airy. Somehow there is an unstated, but very strict rule about avoiding topics that bring on premature tears. God forbid we should show any weakness – keep a stiff upper lip and all that drivel.
Afterwards it got me thinking. She never knew that last summer was her last summer. She had no premonition that the spectacular fall leaves she admired in 2009 were the last opportunity she would ever have to appreciate the burning oranges and searing yellows of the maple trees in her sugar bush. She never knew that the Christmas she shared with her family was the last time she would have everyone gathered around the table, squabbling and laughing over who would get the dark meat from the turkey.
If I knew that this summer was going to be my last summer – if I had the chance to know that in advance…..would I want to know? And if I did, what would I do with each precious day?
Would I squander those last days wallowing in self-pity or could I resolve my spirit to savouring the time I had left? Maybe it would not be a blessing to know where the race ends as the temptation to grieve the loss of people I love could be overwhelming….and crippling. It would be difficult to accept the inevitable with grace, and let go with dignity and love.
Or would the knowledge that everyone I know will soon be left behind cause me to cherish each moment and love each of them so much more? Would it spur me on to live each day to the fullest, because time was so precious? And would it finally grant me the grace of patience and kindness and the end of judgement and intolerance?
Just think how that knowledge could change my life. For the better I think. But do I have to wait until someone tells me that last summer was my last summer? Can’t I live my life as if I am dying…which of course I am…..? I suppose that it is the procrastinator in me that tempts me to diddle away my life, always believing that there is lots of time to change for the better…..but if I lived it instead like this summer is my last summer….how much better would life be?