Live Like You Are Dyin’ – Five Days With a Dying Man

img_20161110_182955374It’s a Tim McGraw Country song. Yes, after meeting Jessica I learned to tolerate (and even like) some Country music. I’m very open minded that way. The lyrics are at the end of this post for those of you who may not have heard it.

I’m here in Florida for a conference. It’s one that was postponed due to it falling on the same weekend that the hurricane hit last month. To be honest, I make it a point to come to this conference every year so that I have a good excuse to visit with my family friends, the Lees. Their son, Lorin was my best friend growing up and they were like a second family to me during my childhood. Lorin died a little over two years ago and that prompted me to rekindle my relationship with his parents. Of course, I’m all “grown up” now, and over this time we have become good friends.

A little overĀ a year ago, Fred was diagnosed with a brain tumor of the most aggressive nature. He was given about a year to live, but had a most excellent surgeon remove the tumor, and while he was told that these tumors were 100% recurring and 100% fatal (It is the same tumor that Joe Biden’s son had), Fred was given a new lease on life for a bit.

I was here about 7 weeks ago or so, coincidentally within days of Fred being told that the tumor was back and, also coincidentally, I happened to be here for this conference and arrived the day he arrived home from the hospital, six weeks after his second surgery, where once again, the surgeon was able to remove 100% of the tumor (that he could find).

After six weeks of recovery, Fred is not the same person he was when I saw him a few short weeks ago. He has lost many of his motor skills on his left side and has a lot of various therapies to go through before he will be able to stand on his own again. He is, for all intents and purposes, bed-ridden. Cancer has taken its toll.

But this post is not all about dying. This post is about living. This post is about a man, who I have been fortunate enough to get to know pretty well over the past two years; not as a child looking up to his best friend’s father, but as an adult looking at a friend. Throughout the visits and conversations we’ve had, there is one thing that stands out to me. Throughout his life, Fred always lived like that day was his last day on earth. Whether it was travel, parenting, authoring, playing tennis with his septuagenarian and octogenarian friends, or just holding hands with his loving wife, you could always tell that he was soaking life in, enjoying every minute of it.

In the last year-plus, I’ve watched him grieve over his condition, but I’ve also watched him fight like crazy for every minute he can get. Even with a death sentence, he has taken advantage of every day and lived life on his terms. He’s been an inspiration through his zest for life and his compassion for others. His desire to impart his knowledge for no other purpose than to help others enjoy a better quality of life is immeasurable and unmatched.

I don’t know how much longer his earthly body will continue to fight, but I know that his spirit has already impacted the lives of so many; whether in the classroom, hospital, or mission field. And when that time comes, I know he’ll be missed, but I am so grateful that I was privileged enough to be welcomed into his world, his inner sanctum, and be shown, through example, that it’s not about how you die, but how you live.

He said I was in my early 40’s,
With a lot of life before me,
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days, lookin’ at the x-rays,
Talkin’ ’bout the options and talkin’ ’bout sweet time.
Asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end.
How’s it hit ya, when you get that kind of news.
Man what ya do.
And he says,

[Chorus]

I went sky divin’,
I went rocky mountain climbin’,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying,
And he said someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin’.

He said I was finally the husband,
That most the time I wasn’t.
And I became a friend a friend would like to have.
And all the sudden goin’ fishing,
Wasn’t such an imposition.
And I went three times that year I lost my dad.
Well I finally read the good book,
And I took a good long hard look at what I’d do
If I could do it all again.
And then.

[Chorus]

Like tomorrow was a gift and you’ve got eternity
To think about what you do with it,
What could you do with it, what can
I do with with it, what would I do with it.

[Chorus]
Sky divin’,
I went rocky mountain climbin’,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I watched an eagle as it was flyin’.
And he said someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin’.

To live like you were dyin’.
To live like you were dyin’.
To live like you were dyin’.
To live like you were dyin’.

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