Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Unthinkable by Angie Ledbetter

Your doctor has given you the worst possible news: you have a fatal disease and a dire prognosis for life expectancy. Your fears are overwhelming. Already, you feel sick and “less than” your former self. How will you spend your remaining time?

Someone dear to me is facing these same questions, and I’ve already lost a few loved ones to cancer. So I ask myself from time to time, How would you handle it? What would you do with the rest of your life?

It’s not a subject anyone wants to think about, but what if you were forced to? I wonder if I would be strong and live with courage and hope? Or would I give up and mourn the loss of extra days? I can’t say for sure, but I hope I’d take the higher path, the harder road.

The thought of an untimely death makes me value each day on this earth even more. I try to fully live out each matter if it is from inside a concession stand doing school team volunteering, or visiting with someone I love. I try every day to let those whom I love know it. I force myself not to grouse over inconveniences or negative events. I want to see the goodness every day has to offer, and mark it by my noticing. I am grateful for early morning alarms ringing, and I am thankful each night when I put my head on a soft feather pillow.

A friend sent me a true story which helped cement my gratitude for life. I hope you enjoy it too, then pass it on to those you care about. Randy Pausch has pancreatic cancer and only a few months to live. He is a popular professor at Carnegie Mellon University. His message is taken from his “final lecture” to beloved students. Pausch has three young children and an unbelievably heroic attitude. His appearance on Oprah has been downloaded over a million times, so just maybe his words are being heard:


Kathryn Magendie said...

I always wonder, too, if I would be "brave" - I hate weaknesses in myself, and hate being dependent, so those would be difficult issues for me...would I be able to "let go" and let someone help me?

Nannette Croce said...

Seeing this makes me wonder about the current trend in the medical community. Many times a person does not receive the terminal diagnosis until they are so debilitated from illness/treatment that they can't get out of bed let alone lecture a group of students. The idea is giving up hope might cut life short, but I think it also robs a person of those last precious days.

Barbara Quinn said...

That's an amazing and inspiring video and fine post. Thanks so much for this. What's important does tend to crystallize. Death is frightening to think about, but it's a walk we all must take. You're one helluva strong person, Angie. Hugs...

cavedweller1 said...

my envy is balanced by my admiration. keep walking the walk and leaving written word for the rest of us.
love love love

Mary Ann said...

Impossible to read without thinking of your certain loved one and your entire family.

Now, that's a magical clan, Angie's family. I am grateful, oh so grateful, that God has put Angie in my life. As bonus, there's also her whole family!

Parents who've raised Angie and her siblings and now the grand and great-grandchildren to do community outreach without waiting to be asked. To help the elderly fill impossibly heavy water containers during Katrina's ravages. To not only prepare hot meals for the homeless but to sit down with these beautiful souls of God to break bread together. To drive 'round the corner when their useless Mimi needs help, either selecting a Christmas tree or unloading an attic groaning now these four years with our two son's boxes, helpfully labled "Ken's Stuff, "Kyle's Stuff, or even "Ken's and Kyle's Stuff."

I am grateful that Angie allows me to feel like a member of her family, that she left a giant chocolate bar studded with nuts and fruit in a bag just hanging from our fence 'til someone would happen to notice it.

Angie's parents include me as one of their surrogate children, too, and I can think of no greater honor.

Angie, you are thankful for things most of us loathe--the early alarm clock, the undervalued job, the full round of teenage activities (yes, sweetie, this, too, shall end, and you'll wonder what to do with you life. Maybe for an instant or two.)

Randy Paush's video--how does one say thank you to him and to Oprah and to you for bringing us this man's life philosophy, which just so happens, it seems, to also be his death philosophy.

My students regularly freak out when I solemnly intone, "We're dying the instant we're born." Oh, how they shriek! How they protest! It's true, though, isn't it? I'm grateful for Angie's gratitude, for Randy Paush's gratitude, for all the good things in my life (and believe me, my life philosophy falls squarely in the Eeyore category).

Thank you.

LauraS. said...

I lost my dear Mother 20 years ago. I watched her strength and faith lend comfort to others as she prepared for life on the other side. It is truly amazing to see what courage Randy Paush displayed in his lecture.
I pray when my turn comes that I can do so with grace and courage.
I truly believe it is almost harder for family members because you just feel so damned HELPLESS!

Love Ya Angie and enjoy reading your blog!

Deborah LeBlanc said...

Wow, thanks for posting this, Ang. I've already forwarded the link to your blog here to a dozen people. What a message....unthinkable and unbelievable...

Dari said...

Hi Angie, I just wanted to let you know that I read all your blogs! This one is awesome, and I've just spent the afternoon surfing everything I can find about Randy. He is truly amazing. I pray that he not only looks around for help, but up too! I am a former Eeyore who has worked hard at becoming a Tigger! I'm praying for you and your family!

Anonymous said...

It took until today before the thoughts would come together. We too have faced the realization that my Dad was dying. He faced it three times last year and during the second trip around that track, I turned the entire thing over to GOD. And during the last and latest, I had to be reminded that HE had it and there was nothing I could to do except pray that if death came, it was my duty to Dad to lean on GOD and he would lead me through it.
This may not help, but for a simple country boy, it works.
Love ya,

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