My guest blogger is my LIVESTRONG friend I made while running the Philadelphia LIVESTRONG Challenge 5K in 2010. Those that know us find it amazing that we only met a little over one year ago....but it is as though we have been friends for life. I have never laughed so hard as I have when I am around Christine.....to the point that my belly aches and I have almost fallen off my bike.She is one of my many sounding boards, a major component of my LIVESTRONG support system....and a CANCER HATER!
What follows is a euology she delivered yesterday at the funeral of her friend Sean, who fought bravely against cancer but ran out of time.
What she shares applies to each and everyone of us. Take a look at your own life - are you living it fully?
It is not the length of life, but depth of life.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Take good care of your body.
Your body is the greatest tool you'll ever own. It impacts every step you take and every move you make. Nourish it, exercise it, rest it.
Spend as much time as possible with the people you love
Human beings are emotional creatures. Family and close friends makeup the core of your emotional support system. The more you nuture them, the more they will nuture you.
"I would not be anywhere else than with my child who was desperately sick and fighting for his life. Every night and most days I stayed with him, watching him battle to live. Finally the day before he lost his battle, he looked at me and said 'my poor mommy'"
Be a part of something you believe in
This could be anything. Some people take active role in their council, some find refuge in religious faith, some join social clubs supporting causes they believe in, and others find passion in their careers. In each case the psychological outcome is the same. They engage themselves in something they strongly believe in. This engagement brings happiness and meaning into their lives.
"Sean was going to be an honorary chair of the 2012 American Cancer Society's Daffodil Days campaign. It was something he was excited to get involved with. The campaign will now be dedicated to his honor."
Excel at what you do
There's no point in doing something if you aren't going to do it right. Excel at your work and excel at your hobbies. Develop a reputation for yourself, a reputation for consistent excellence.
"Sean never saw limitations w/his niece Morgan Stephanie. He never thought about what she couldn't do, never talked about what her limits would be. He only imagined what she could accomplish. He saw no boundaries in life only the possibility of completing anything. I published my Livestrong ride of 2008 on Facebook and Tracey told Sean she wanted to run the 5k in his honor. He said I want to do it with you. She told him she would walk w/him, but he insisted on jogging and he crossed the finish line receiving his yellow rose RUNNING all smiles."
Freedom is the greatest gift. Self-sufficiency is the greatest freedom.
"Freedom to Sean could have been being on an open road, starting, stopping, choosing a route to drive. It could be from 2009 to 2011 when he was in remission of cancer. I hope that it is now, being free of pain, free of cancer, and free of being scared. I know in my heart that I will always miss and long for my brother and husband, but again freedom. I am free to love him, free to replay all of my memories, free to know I will someday meet w/him again."
Build a comfortable, loving household
Home is where the heart is. Your home should be comfortable and lined with love. It should be a place that brings the whole family together.
"A house is not a home until it is filled with love. Each and every home Sean entered, lived in, or visited was instantly a home."
Respect elders. Respect minors. Respect everyone
There are no boundaries or classes that define a group of people that deserve to be respected. Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would give to your grandfather and the same level of patience you would have with your big brother or husband.
"Sean was kind to every person he met, whether young or old, rich or poor. He treated others the way he would expect his sisters or wife to be treated. Sean always had the patience of a saint, it showed through the loving relationships he had with his nieces and nephews."
Mix it up. Try different things
Seek as many new life experiences as possible and be sure to share them with the people you love. After all, your life's story is simply a string of experiences. The more experiences you have, the more interesting your story gets.
Take full ownership of your actions
Either own up to your actions or your actions will ultimately own you.
Listen more. Talk less
The more you listen and the less you talk, the more you will learn and the less you will miss.
"Sean loved in the last few months, the people who just came to talk. He listened intently and loved the talking."
Savor the natural joys of simple pleasures
They come in the form of simple pleasures and they appear right in front of you at various locations and arbitrary times. They are governed by Mother Nature and situational circumstance and captured by mindful awareness. It’s all about taking a moment to notice the orange and pink sunset reflecting off the pond water as you hold hands with someone you love. Noticing these moments and taking part in them regularly will bring unpredictable bursts of happiness into your life.
"It is really a shame that we sometimes need a life changing event to help us appreciate moments in our lives. Sometimes the silver lining that comes from the passing of a friend or loved one is the realization that our time in this world is not infinite. We need to savor every moment that our lives afford us the opportunity to experience. Sean lived his life this way. He taught us to take every chance, dance every dance and live EVERY moment. In just the last few years, Sean experienced so many great things that should inspire us to LIVE FOR THE MOMENT. Whether it was starting his own business or supporting cancer research, he did it with an enthusiasm and passion that was unmatched. We are all blessed to have known Sean and I hope we are all inspired by his courage and positive attitude to enjoy every moment life has to offer. I know we will all live our lives SeanSTRONG."
Leave time for spontaneous excursions
Sometimes opportunity knocks at unexpected times. Make sure you have enough flexibility in your schedule to respond accordingly.
"Growing up my son, Sean always would say 'dad look at that truck going down the road.' As Sean began driving he would work around trucks. Before you knew it, Sean called me to say 'I got a job driving a tractor trailer for some company and I'm going to Delaware tomorrow.' I said Go for it! That was the start, then came California and British Columbia and it never stopped."
BE HERE NOW
Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life. Don't miss it.
A Word of Consolation
If a tiny baby could think, it would be afraid of birth. To leave the only world it had known would seem a kind of death. But immediately after birth the child finds itself in loving arms, showered with affection and cared for at every moment.
Passing through death is really a birth into a new and better world. Those who are left behind should not grieve as if there were no hope. Life is changed, not taken away. Our dear ones live on, in a world beautiful beyond anything we can imagine.
There they await the day when they will welcome us with joy.
In Sean's Own Words.-When he was re-diagnosed- "I am positive I can defeat this again. I have a lot of support of friends & family 24/7! Keep you posted! LIVESTRONG!"
'Sean NEVER gave up, he simply ran out of time, he simply ran out of time.'