So, after over 40 years, I returned to the theatre. Well, not really. I WENT to the theatre to see a show. But I saw Carl Stewart, who I haven't seen in 40 years, and with whom I share a history, and it brought back glorious memories!
But before the show, I was sitting in the lobby enjoying a glass of wine and I happened to meet Greg. He is about my age, or maybe a few years younger. He is a veteran, having served in the Coast Guard. He has cancer. Having been jerked around by both the V.A. and the civilian medical system for several years, he now has cancer in almost every organ in his body. I won't go into all that, but he hopes that with the new medicine he's on, he might have as much as a year to live.
Even in high school, Greg was a phenomenal sculptor. He has won many art awards over the years, and according to my friend who introduced him, Greg could have competed with the finest artists in the world.
Now, though, Greg no longer sculpts. Why not? "I don't know." He is agile, in spite of the boot on his right foot (immobilizing his bones and muscles from which tumors were removed 3 weeks ago), and has a great smile, in spite of the barely scabbed over wound on the bridge of his nose, from which a tumor was removed this morning, due to it burrowing perilously close to his brain.
Greg has no family, and is renting a room from a friend of Aaron, who is also sorta caring for him. I asked what his plans are. "To get some things straight, so I don't leave a mess."
Talking to Greg made me think again about my own mortality, as us old folks occasionally do anyway. I hope I have a year left on this earth. Hell, I hope I have 30 years more! But what if I knew I had only a year at most? What then? I have no "bucket list". There really aren't many things I want to do that I haven't done. I have no burning desire to see Paris or the pyramids. While travel would be fun, deep own, I really would rather go fishing or read a book.
Once I had a list of 3 things I wanted to do before I die. I've learned to whistle (thank you, Mary). I still haven't learned to yodel, and I haven't ridden in a blimp, but in the broad scope of things, I think I will have few regrets if I go before I do either of those things.
So, what would I do? What is REALLY, REALLY important enough to spend time doing, if you KNOW your time is limited, and every minute counts? It is important to Greg to "not leave a mess". I'm not sure I care if I leave a mess. My children are used to mess. They can handle it. And I have no real regrets. Oh sure, there are some things I might would do a bit differently, but when I look at the ripples of my decisions over the years, I wouldn't change anything significantly.
There is one I loved (and still do), and might have spent my life with, had things been different, had I been different... (sigh)...but we all have one of those, probably. I love my life NOW too much to have any regrets about that either. But I digress.
So what would I do if I knew I had one year to live? Write my memoirs? Oh that might be a big mistake. Read all the books I want to read and haven't read yet? Probably not. My grandmother died in the middle of "General Hospital", and I'm pretty sure there were no significant ripples. Would I plant a garden this Spring? Maybe, but probably not. Would I get these dents in my car fixed? No. New tires? Nope. Finish cleaning out the basement? Don't think so. Lose these 10 extra pounds, so my casket is lighter? Get real!
After all is said and done, I think I would do exactly the same things I do now. If I knew I had one year to live, I think I would do the same things, but would enjoy them even more. I would pay more REAL attention to the people I am around every day. I would be sure they know I love them and care about them. I don't do "goodbyes", so there would be none of that, but just in case today is the last time, I would say, "I love you" more often, give more hugs, and write more letters.
None of us know. Today could always be the last one. So let me say this to you right now, so there is no wondering later: I love you. HUGS!