My mentor is dying. I don’t even know what to do with that. He is dying of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. A cancer so aggressive that it’s left him skin and bones in a matter of four months. FOUR MONTHS.
I speak about him like he has died. Or I find myself speaking to him like he will die tomorrow. I don't know how to balance the two.
He has found so much peace in the situation and I, a bit wet behind the ears when it comes to this thing called life, still am hoping, wishing, and praying. Mostly praying. Selfishly, I pray for myself. Like how I will cope when he is gone or how I will manage to keep a brave face as I address his family when he passes. If he passes. Here I go again living between he is dead/dying. I can’t reconcile the two.
What I can reconcile is what life looks like when you know something may kill you. I know that you become more humble, a bit less patient with the minuscule, and a lot more prayerful.
When you've been given a death sentence, it seems you tend to see life for what it is and what it’s not. He told me he wishes when he had the strength, he ran faster to God. During those times, he found he walked the slowest. And now that he is unable to attend mass, he prays he will be able to get through the scriptures without falling asleep. He prays God looks at his heart more than his deeds. He prays for his family to find their faith (whatever that is) and practice it daily. He prays he left a good impression on those who crossed his path. He prays. And prays. And prays.
As I sit with this, I am reminded of how short life is and how often I take every single second for granted. I take my health for granted. I take my relationships for granted. I take aging for granted. I take so much for granted.
Remember, not everyone will get the chance to get old. Aging is a beautiful thing. Embrace it. Even when it gets uncomfortable. I sure am.
UPDATE: He died this week. I wrote this piece last week after I had visited him. I don’t even know how to feel. The only words that come to mind are from a song by John Mayer called, “Stop This Train”. The song is about life and how fast it goes. He talks about feeling sad when he thinks about losing his parents because he is “...one generations length away from finding life out on my own." In the chorus, he repeats, "Stop this train. I want to get off and go home again. I can't take the speed it's moving in. I know I can't, but honestly won't someone stop this train."
As much as I try, I know I will never stop this train, so instead I plan to run faster. Thank you Bill for your wise words, your friendship, your love, and your guidance. I will miss you every single day for the rest of my life. Rest in peace, my sweet friend. Rest in peace. #UntilWeMeetAgain