Sunday, March 24, 2013

Before I die I want to......

The month of March is one of anniversaries for me. It is also the beginning of Spring and new life. My anniversaries are of marking time since death, or new life, according to my faith.

It is the anniversary of my late husbands lung transplant that would have given him a few more years of being on this earth with me. It is also the anniversary of his death 3 weeks after the transplant. He taught me and anyone who knew him to live life to the fullest every single moment. He did that until his last breath with the way he lived his life and by celebrating the most ordinary things as something special. 

During the process at Duke of getting a lung transplant you go through an evaluation process for one week to see if you qualify for their program. That process includes the caregiver so I was a part of it. The first day of that process I met a man from Minnesota who had been turned down for a transplant by 3 other hospitals in the country. He had the most beautiful smile in spite of being on copious amounts of oxygen, still struggling to breathe and running out of time. Each day of those couple months of pre-transplant rehab I would say hello to Ray and he would respond that he was doing great, flash that big smile, and continue that he was “just skipping merrily through life”.  Ray died this week 3 years post transplant and I am certain he was still smiling and skipping.

March also marks the anniversary of my sweet mom beginning hospice care until her death in April. That was truly life changing for me and taught me much about living. She was another person who kept a smile on her face until the very end and chose to be present in life until her last breath.

Not one of the 3 people I have acknowledged whined or complained even during some extremely difficult days. They were present in their moments and certainly present in mine. They impacted my thinking and life forever.

A couple weeks ago something showed up on my annual mammogram and I needed a biopsy done. During the waiting for the results of the second mammogram, the ultrasound and then the biopsy, a good friend asked how I could be so calm about it. My response was because of my faith, best case is I die. Second best case is I don’t die and get new perky boobs out of the deal.  Had the results been different and it was cancer, I would remember to live in the moment and not stress about the next.

My husband, my mom and my friend showed me how to die with grace but more importantly they showed me how to live. I was fortunate to be able to share those experiences this week with a large group of people when speaking at a conference.  These 3 peoples lives are still touching others because of the way they chose to live. My parting comment to the audience was to not wait for a diagnosis of impending death to think about living their life.
Choose your life and be present in every single moment of it.
Celebrate the ordinary things as something special!




  1. That's a good story. I have seen it first hand as well with my mom, some friends. I have a cousin at Duke right now, she may need a liver transplant. She is 21, just had her first baby and they both have not left the hospital since Feb. 22nd. Some rare bacterial infection got both of them. Her liver is 70% destroyed can live with just around a quarter of it. She is also very graceful through it all. What is your religion if you don't mind me asking?


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