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What I learned from dying; Time flies when you’re… living

I’m beginning to embrace my new, sickly lifestyle. I’m driving with my bright red handicapped parking pass dangling from my rear view mirror and I’ve found a freeing new excuse for all occasions: “Hey, I’m dying. What do you expect?” Who can argue with that?  No one, that’s who.

Life is funny but dying can be too, but I’ll admit it’s a punch line that doesn’t always fly.

I have to use my lighthearted handling of this stuff wisely, because I bummed out an older guy at the Porsche Parade at French Lick Monday. He had a beautiful 1955 356 Continental in the concours d’elegance and I asked him some questions about it but added that I didn’t want to take up too much of his time.

He said, “When you get old you’ve got nothing but time.” It struck me as funny that he was making a comment about having more time than he knew what to do with while I’ve been doing everything I know to do to try to get more time. I told him that I’d just been diagnosed with cancer so time was a precious commodity to me. I could feel the fun fall out the bottom of that conversation.

Maybe I’ll live much longer than my diagnosis says I should, but it’s still true, as some have said, that life is a fatal condition.

Time is indeed fleeting whether you’re dying or not.  I am dying, but so is everyone else. That includes you.

The average life expectancy for males in the United States is about 78 years, according to the trusty internet, but it doesn’t sound like I’m going to get that. I always assumed I’d get way more. It looks like I was wrong.

I’ve often said and heard that the only thing worse than getting old is not getting the chance to be old, but I’m beginning to think another thing worse than both of those is not using the time we have well.

There were years in my 20s that I wasted doing essentially nothing because I was waiting for something better, but I didn’t learn until much later than most the lesson that little things lead to bigger, better things. I would’ve been better off if I’d swallowed my pride and taken the bad jobs or done the embarrassing tasks.

I sold a car last week to put the money toward bills and I’d owned it seven years without ever having gotten to drive it. I kept saying I wanted to “do it right,” but that meant it never got done. Now that car is gone and soon the money will be too and most of my memories are of walking past it in the garage.

As much as I’m wanting more time there’s no way to make that happen.

Only God knows how many days or years any of us have, but there’s one thing we do know: every one of us, rich or poor, happy or sad, gets 24 hours each day. We can’t speed them up, we can’t slow them down, but we can use them well or we can waste them.

Do one thing with this current 24 hours that makes you happy, or better yet, do something that makes someone else’s day better.

No one ever says on their deathbed that they wish they’d watched more TV or treated people worse. No one says they’re so pleased that they spent years holding onto a grudge.

Go for a short walk. Sit outside and look at the sky. Get up a little earlier and listen to the birds. Put in a little work on that project. Give someone a compliment. You have 24 hours so make them good.

By Dave Taylor
dave.hancockclarion@gmail.com

 

5 Comments

  1. Scott Ferguson on July 15, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    Dave,
    I have a 1974 VW bus that hasn’t moved in a year or so. I think it’s about time to get it out, honk the horn and take the family to get ice cream.
    Keep going! Every day, keep going.
    Scott

    • Linda on July 15, 2021 at 4:54 pm

      Made me well up too. Don’t you dare give up Dave! Remember the comments from nurses who have witnessed stage 4 getting cured! Many times.
      I have a friend in Owensboro who also has been cured of stage 4 …. and you have so many people praying for you,it truly happens!
      God hears us!

  2. Di Winson on July 15, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    This one made me totally well up, Dave. Keep fighting!

  3. Jeff Smith on July 15, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement Dave!
    Wait, we’re supposed to be encouraging you!
    Love you Dave!

  4. Cindy Heep on July 18, 2021 at 10:18 am

    Dave,
    I have a new friend , Linda who works at the Clarion and she has spoken so highly of you & your upbeat, and optimistic approach to your life with cancer. As you know , just hearing the word CANCER stops you in your tracks and at that point it feels like you don’t know where to go from there. My mother passed away in 2012 with breast cancer and I can honestly say that as I read your story I know that she wanted to accomplish more. She wanted to live more. At first diagnosis she was given 6 m but thankfully we had her here with us for a 1 1/2 years. She had placed money down and ordered a brand new car after her diagnosis. A car that she didn’t need & wasn’t going to be able to enjoy. Thankfully , we were able to get her deposit back from the dealership after explaining the situation. My reason for sharing this is because , if I learned anything at all from her experience with the cancer diagnosis I learned this… she had no control over what was happening to her body so she found something that she did have control over … her money and the Independance of wanting something new for herself.
    I encourage you to keep fighting the fight. Keep living your best life because when it’s all said and done .. you have no idea how much longer you may have and what have you got to lose ?
    I’m praying for you as I have since Linda shared your story with me. You & God have got this !! God Bless!!

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