CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter…
That is what I thought as I completed the second year after my cancer diagnosis.
It was on this date, Feb. 6, that my first oncologist told me I would probably be dead “in a year or two.” It was just a casual statement, a general idea, an approximation. But I seized on the idea of two. Two years sounded like so much more than one. I really wanted that second year.
So, with optimism, I worked on a two-year plan. Everything I needed to do to get ready to die had to be done in those two years. There were things I could not control. I had not walked my daughters down the aisle. I had not played trotty-horse with my grandchildren. But what I could control, I had to accomplish in only two years.
I did not have a bucket list, visiting Timbuktu, or sky-diving, or writing a novel. In the two years I had left, I needed to get ready to die by learning how to live.
Learning to live is the opposite of a bucket list. It is learning to be rather than to do.
So, at the end of that second year, I died. I died to my irrational, selfish self. I had nothing more to do to make my peace with life. Everything that I did in those two years taught me this: Love is the only rational act. I didn’t need to know anything else.
That was twenty-seven years ago. I still don’t need to know anything else.
“Love is the only rational act” is attributed to Stephen Levine, but probably comes to most people through Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie, when the dying Morrie Schwartz quotes it.