Our neighbor is dying. He opted out of cancer treatment due to its ineffectiveness and was given six months to live. He is three months in and every single day he impresses me. I see his thin frame on his riding lawn mower taking care of his lawn, pedaling his bicycle down the street in lazy loops like a man without a care, riding his motorized wheel chair around the neighborhood, and taking walks with friends and family as they push him in his wheelchair. He is not waiting to die, but living his life despite his prognosis and pain, all the while cherishing the sun upon his face.
His situation has not held him up, but almost freed him to savor these moments until the end. What a great reminder for me, for all of us, really. You see, I get so overwhelmed with my everyday life. I get overwhelmed with my dirty bathrooms, unswept floors, dusty baseboards, and unmade beds. I get overwhelmed by working full time, cooking dinner, and keeping up with a husband, dog, five year-old, and a two year-old. Life is busy and non-stop and some days I am not sure I can put one foot in front of the other. Like…. I would for real love to lay on my couch all day long while binge watching Golden Girls, or HGTV, or, soap operas. Wouldn’t that be amazing? No one talking to me, no one sharing my meal, or dumping my coffee, or needing a diaper change. Yeah, I could handle the day off. And then I think of my neighbor, in his 50’s, living out his last moments and truly living them. I mean, he is in it. He is riding and pedaling his way through his situation with grace and peace. He isn’t letting his truly overwhelming circumstances swallow him up, he is in it until the end.
I want to tell him I see this. I want to tell him he impresses me and he has encouraged me to be in the moment, to cherish every sticky, dirty handprint, kiss, and mess. He has encouraged me to absolutely be in it, to tickle my kids and laugh with them when I want to lose patience. He has encouraged me to go slow, to be joyful, and to never stop no matter how overwhelmed I become. What a gift he has given me and he doesn’t even know it. This tired mama/wife/employee is going to keep moving forward slowly, but surely and enjoy it all, good and bad because of my incredible neighbor. I am going to do this for me, for my husband, and for my precious babies, because, yes our lives are busy, but they are good and they are manageable. I am going to do this for my neighbor who will not be able to do this himself, far too soon. In light of this I have taken a statement from Gary Null’s book, Living in the Moment, and made it my motto. “Every day is a new opportunity to reexamine how we can make our life better and richer with remarkable experiences.” I think we can all benefit from this proclamation. I plan to and I hope you do as well.