Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. I am sixty; there have been a few really bad days, a dozen or so incredibly amazing days and luckily, a life time of regular ones. Having a younger sibling with terminal cancer has shed new light on the joy of ordinary and the idea of what matters most.
My sister and I spent the day with one of our brothers. We started with the radiologist, next was the oncologist. The news that a significant part of his brain tumor was not able to be removed was officially revealed to us and for that moment, understood by our brother. He needed time to process all the information, but when you are told your probable ‘Expiration Date’ and it can be measured in days, time has a new meaning.
He is dying. He has a 12 year old and a 15 year old. He wants to spend every possible remaining moment with them. He has a book he is trying to write. He has songs he has written and recorded and wants to finish them. Where does one start? Turmoil shoved his cancer strained brain closer to insanity.
Struggling to help him, I suggested that he try to keep things simple. We talked about how things fell apart for our family when dad died and then again when mom died. He said that for him, the single most important thing was to make sure his children got to stay together. That one thing was what mattered most. Family has to stick together.
What matters most is truly what matters most. Help the person simply remember what matters most to them. With all the medical information and dates and schedules being thrown at them like giant hail stones in a thunder storm, help them try to keep things simple. If they don’t want to go through radiation and chemo therapy, honor their request.
When you can measure your remaining life in days, it matters. Put aside everything and listen. That is what matters most.