Someone of exceptional vision once said “There are only three certainties in life: birth, death and taxes.” We tend to celebrate births; we all complain about taxes; and we ignore death until it walks up and stares us in the face. Death is so foreign a concept to our conscious minds, that we not only ignore thinking about our own passing, we also avoid dealing with anyone we know whose time here is limited.
Consider this scenario. One of your co-workers has been ill of late. After a series of tests, he is told that he has Stage 4 colon cancer. He continues to work as much as possible, but more and more he is missing from the work environment as he submits to chemo, radiation, and whatever experimental treatments and clinical trials are available. Eventually, he is home bound, only getting out to go to treatments and doctor’s appointments.
At first, it was hard and stressful working with him, because you didn’t want to watch him in his misery. When he stopped coming to work you were conflicted. You missed him, but you were relieved that the stress you were feeling while he was around left with him. You sent a card or some flowers at first. You even stopped by once or twice to visit at the beginning of his “confinement” but as time moved on, you found more and more excuses to be “busy” and you avoided going back.
Then you got the call that your co-worker died…and the guilt set in. You began to question your own ethics. What kind of person am I, anyway? Why didn’t I go back and see him? Why didn’t I call more? I thought I was a good person, but I’m just like everyone else. To assuage that guilt, you promised yourself you’d never do it again…until the next person of your acquaintance was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
There isn’t anything wrong with you. You’re just human. We all are. I faced this question many years ago, and I finally figured out that you don’t have to do much to make a difference, but you do have to do something. I figured out what to do, something that worked for me, and I’ve been doing it for terminally ill friends, acquaintances and even for perfect strangers for 20 years. The key is taking them on only one at a time.
A friend urged me to write a book about my 20 years of experience with my “project” and I’m now shopping that book to agents and publishers alike. I’m not going to ruin the plot for you or tell you how it ends…but I’ll let you know when it is due to be distributed! Keep a good thought for me, because this book could make a significant impact on those who read it, those who take it to heart, and those terminally ill friends and acquaintances who end up on the receiving end of the project.