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What I Learned From Dying: New Year’s Resolutions

Dave Taylor, News Editor

Since everyone else starts the year with New Year’s resolutions, which are mostly lies we tell ourselves, I’m going to make my own list of lies, I mean, resolutions for 2022.

Exercise more. Everyone says they’re going to work out more as their resolution, so why shouldn’t I join in too? I actually do need to work out some since I’ve lost 100 lbs with my cancer and along with any fat most of my muscle left too. I’m bony and feeble and I don’t like it.

Gain weight. Now this one is the opposite of what most people want, but as I mentioned above, I’ve lost 100 lbs so I need to pack on some pounds. Plus, me adding some weight would more than likely be a very good sign that perhaps I’m getting better.

Get everything fixed on my car. Right now it has an oil leak and several other small issues that make it just slightly less fun to drive. The down side is I used to do all my own mechanic work but now I feel like just opening the door is a pretty impressive feat, so I’ll have to pay someone to do it all for me.

Get two haircuts. This one sounds easy enough, but this year it has more meaning. First, just because I’m dying it doesn’t mean I have to look like I’m dying. Second, I’m pretty sure my hair is thinning dramatically lately, and every shower shows more and more shedding, so if I can get two haircuts maybe it’ll mean the chemo didn’t make all of my hair fall out and that I might still look like a regular person at the end of the year.

Organize my garage. This one might have to happen in stages and I can call each one a victory. I have a lot of car parts that are mostly filling a two-car garage and I need to get or build some shelving to keep it organized, plus once I do that I can actually park two cars in there.

Sell a lot of stuff. I have a whole lot of stuff but it turns out I don’t necessarily need it all, so I desperately need to sell some stuff, and especially the bigger stuff that’s taking up the most room. Goodbye extra VW engines and goodbye Overman Pod Sofa.

Shower more often. Yeah, this one’s gross but I’ll admit that since I got sick I felt less and less like showering, but I plan to step it up in this new year and be more like the cleaner version I used to be.

Take more photos. I used to shoot a lot of photos. And I mean I shot a lot of everything. I shot for work, I shot for fun, and I even shot as a form of diary, where instead of writing something down I’d take a picture of it. But lately I’ve barely shot anything, including cool and important stuff I never would have passed on before. My phone has plenty of storage so I need to take advantage of it and shoot a whole lot more.

Hang out more. By this I mean to hang out with friends and family more. Before I got sick this one was tough, with families and schedules making it difficult to spend time with friends. Since I’ve gotten sick I’ve actually hung out with more people, but I’ve also skipped opportunities to hang out plenty of times just because I was tired and I felt like talking a lot would wear me out. It does wear me out but so what? Do I have to conserve my energy for something else? I need to accept the hangout offers and then just take a nap.

Travel. This one won’t be easy and maybe I can work into it slowly but I need to get out and see a little more of this beautiful world. I have a backpack that holds my feeding machine and I can pack my medicines so I don’t have much of an excuse. It turns out my fiancee Jamie’s house is only about two hours from Chicago so that sounds like a very nice place to start.

Get some clothes that fit. All of my current clothes are too big after the weight loss and I’ve been holding on to the hope that maybe I’d grow back into them but I need to give up and acknowledge that I’m at least two sizes smaller now and wearing my big floppy clothes makes me look bad. But hey, I can keep my old clothes just in case I do grow back into them, since that is a resolution too.

Exist to more people. Since about April I’ve been pretty much out of sight, out of mind for most people. I haven’t been to a local event in forever and other than for church and chemo I basically don’t leave the house. For all intents and purposes, for most people, I’m already gone. But I’m not already gone, I’m right here stuck in my bed, wishing for better days. I can start going to games or other county events and if I start to feel bad I can always just leave. But maybe I’ll feel fine and the people there will remember that I’m still around, just in a different form.

Write more. I’ve mentioned it before in a previous column but either the cancer or the chemo makes it extremely difficult to concentrate for very long, and even this column is a struggle most weeks. But I love to write so I want to make a conscious effort to write more, whether it’s for the Clarion or just for myself. Every news reporter secretly wants to be a novelist, so maybe if I start writing more regularly I can take some of the list of ideas I’ve been keeping and actually turn them into something long form, even if no one ever reads it but me.

Plan my funeral. This one sounds a little antithetical to the point of resolutions and a little dark, but I can’t ignore the fact that I’m going to need a funeral sooner than later and there’s no reason I can’t plan it out ahead of time. Maybe with some pre-planning and some forethought it won’t have to be boring like most everyone else’s (no offense already dead people). I don’t need dancing and comedy, but maybe some good songs and maybe even a video from me would liven up that thing. Remember, if I’m dead that means I’m in Heaven so if anyone is sad about that you must be crazy.

Marry Jamie. We’ve been engaged since October and we both desperately want to be married so why not this year? We have all these really annoying insurance and disability complications that would come once we combine our incomes, which essentially mean it will cost her thousands of dollars to marry me, which is why we have put it off so far. But we need to figure all that out and make it official and permanent.

Do something nice for someone else. So many people have done so many amazing things for me since I got sick that I feel like I owe it to the world to try to do something good for someone else. I don’t need to be taking all the time, I can give too. My days of manual labor might be behind me, but there are other ways I can help. I need to find some of those ways and make some other people’s lives better like so many have done for me.

Hook up my stereo. OK, this one is admittedly pretty easy but for some reason I just haven’t done it. I have a surround sound upstairs that I pieced together buying used and I hooked it all up and listened to music from my phone and it sounded amazing. Then I decided to try out a single tower speaker, which didn’t sound as good, so I unhooked it all and there it has stayed. I need to hook up the multiple speakers again because it’s a joy to feel fully immersed in good music as it surrounds you.

Paint my bedroom. I moved to my junky house in a hurry, sleeping on the floor in the dark because the electrical had to be brought up to code to be turned on. Needless to say that took all my time and attention, so the fact that my bedroom was light purple went without notice. Now it’s a tad embarrassing, not just with the tween color but also the hideous 1980s, flowery wallpaper border that adorns the top of each wall. It’s bad and it needs to go so I need to get resolute and slap some paint up there.

Eat mashed potatoes and gravy. I miss food, but I understand that realistically I might never get to swallow much again, but I miss mashed potatoes too and if my chemo will continue to work maybe the tumor on my esophagus will shrink enough to allow some food to pass through. Mashed potatoes were one of the last things I wast able to choke down so perhaps it could be the first thing I could eat again this year. I swallowed two small sips of water the other day so I’m well on my way.

Run. I don’t mean run long distance or sprint for exercise, I just mean run like I’m trying to stay dry in a rainstorm or like I’m crossing a busy street. With the cancer progressing I’ve gotten to where walking longer distances is tough and a strain on my bony legs, and depending on the day it’s a limpy, sad gait that gets me to and from the bathroom, so running in any way would be huge for me. Maybe I’ll like it and I’ll keep doing it.

Learn more about art. I was an art history minor in college and it gave me a deeper appreciation for the art world, but life has a way of pushing artsy things to the background. There are documentaries I can watch, museums I can visit, and galleries online I can view. This year there’s no excuse. I already watched a short documentary on Rene Magritte just today, so I’m off to a good start.

Read more of the Bible. I read my verse of the day every day, but I’ll admit that many times that’s as far as I get. Sometimes I expand it to read the whole chapter, but those days are more rare than I’d like to admit. I mentioned earlier that I now have trouble concentrating, but I have a feeling that if I pray for God to give me the concentration to read his word he’ll provide it to me. This one already has help built in so how hard should it be?

Welcome 2023. This might be the toughest one yet because I think I’m not technically supposed to be around that long, but I’m going for it. I almost died in September and I didn’t like it so I’m hoping not to do that again for a while. It feels like I’ve had cancer for years already, but it’s only been a bit more than eight months, so another full year sounds like a big ask. But this is a resolution, the same method that most people convince themselves they’re going to lose weight, so I’m using it to convince myself to gain days.

I should probably make more resolutions about cleaning the house or being a better fiance but these will keep me plenty busy.

I hope everyone reading this had a happy New Year and I pray that all of your New Year’s wishes come true.
dave.hancockclarion@gmail.com

3 Comments

  1. Jeff Smith on January 5, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    Dave, I hope you have the Happiest of New years, and I hope it lasts another 360 days!
    Love ya

  2. Nancy Estes on January 5, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    Hello Dave it is great to hear from you again.You are in my prayers to GOD. I pray for your healing and for GOD to Bless your life and give you strength.I love to read the messages that you write also. From Nancy Estes

  3. Saundra arison on January 7, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    Hang in there Dave. We are all praying for your and we love you, never forget that.I read every article you write and am so very impressed with you. You are such a strong person and an inspiration to all. Love you for all you do and write

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