My friend Dave had a nagging injury in his arm that didn’t seem to heal. His doctor grew suspicious and he was quickly diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The average life expectancy from time of diagnosis is two years.
Dave made it almost three and a half.
The fact that Dave was a wonderful, great man, a friend of many, made his passing hard.
But what made it even more intense for me personally was the fact that Dave and I were the same age. His son was the same age as, and friends with, my son. His daughter the same age as, and friends with, my daughter.
Unlike so many tragedies which we can differentiate from ourselves because it happened “over there” or because the people involved are different from us in some comforting way, there was no geographic or demographic distance between Dave and I.
When I spoke at Dave’s funeral in November, 2010 at the age of 46, any residual sense of invincibility and immortality was purged from my life forever.
But because of the way Dave handled his sickness and death, my faith and hope were strengthened.
Among the things I shared at his funeral:
Despite all the work on genetics and anti-aging foods, drugs and fitness programs, we are all aging and we will all die. You and I will die. So, in the words of a fellow speaker “we might as well get on with the only pressing business there is: figuring out how to die well.” If something can help us with that, it’s worth looking at; if it can’t it’s a diversion from what really matters.
My friend died well. He instilled in me a desire to die well.
I’ve increasingly come to believe that finishing well is a worthy goal which makes us live more wisely. It moves me to action, calls me to risk more, to express my love more, to think long term.
I have my own ideas of what it means to finish well.
What will it look like for you to finish well?