[Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving your childhood dreams] Randy died of cancer the same year I was diagnosed. His last lecture became a viral sensation and the book is a global phenomenon. It is encouraging and poignant and touching in ways that only someone facing the end of their life (or some other massive tragedy) can be. Especially when they are looking at you and imparting their wisdom with humor and grace and elegance so that your next days (or your last days) are as perfect and wonderful as they can be.
It takes a special mindset to see beyond your own misery and look to others with the desire to help them on their journey. Like all the other millions of people who watched this lecture and read the book (yes, I did both)... I laughed and cried and was touched and moved by his instructions. I wondered whether I could ever show that type of elegance when I'm facing my own end. And I wondered where that strength came from. I still do.
In the past few weeks and months, there has been a lot of death and sickness in my world. Family members have passed away, my best friend lost her father suddenly and my heart ached like it was my dad who had died. Another one of my best friends is watching her father battle with serious health issues as well. And I feel sad and helpless all over again. And of course, a friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and my heart broke for her when she shared the news. Sometimes its all just a lot to take. I tell myself that I'm moving into that age range where its likely that more sickness and even deaths will be a part of the fabric of my life. I tell myself that as a way to brace myself for dealing with these types of deep emotions.
But today... I was reminded of the grace some people show when they are facing the end of their life. Reading the facebook status of a friend's breast cancer blog saddened me this morning. This wonderfully witty and funny woman is in stage 4 of her cancer journey. So many of her posts are funny, self-depracating and lighthearted... even as she's discussing her pain, her frustrations, her treatments and her end of life preparations.
Since I am a notorious over-thinker, her posts remind me to pull my head out of my butt and look around at the beauty that this world has. No, things are never perfect but that doesn't mean that you can't find joy and appreciate what you do have. As I struggle to figure out this life of mine, I am focusing this year on living with grace.
I used to be so deeply annoyed that so many cancer-survivors were always showing these eternally perky personalities to the world. I thought it was unfair and dishonest. But I'm realizing that these folks are trying to be graceful in the face of deep fears and frustrations. Grace is a powerful trait. It is the honest acceptance that all is not perfect coupled with the strength to show the world that it will not steal your joy or your happiness.
My grace may not look like someone else's... but it will be genuine and based on honesty and appreciation for all parts of this journey. Day by day, I will learn to be grateful and graceful.