Doug, the friend, had succumbed to pancreatic cancer six months after his diagnosis, just as he was about to enter his golden years (in the view of our local grocery stores, anyway). We are assured that, in the end, he died peacefully and painlessly. And according to the writer/editor, he did a great job of managing his last few months on earth, spending time with his family, visiting his hometown multiple times, and entertaining waves of adoring friends.
Doug, he wrote, “found the fortitude … to wring some more pleasures out of life.”
The writer/editor said he learned something important from the bitterness, the unfairness, of Doug’s death -- to wit:
“We are all mortal, and that confers upon us an obligation. No, a duty. It is to do everything we can to put the most quality in the days we have — whether they are our own days or those of someone we care for. It can be said this is important at any stage of life, but especially so if we know the end is nearing.”
So kudos to Doug for being able to “wring some more pleasure out of life,” for putting “the most quality” into his last days.
But hold on a minute. Is that what life is all about? Pleasures and quality?
I agree that our mortality confers upon us an obligation – nay, a duty. But it has nothing to do with pleasures or quality. It has to do with spending as much time planning for eternity as we spend saying good-bye to family, friends and hometowns. And that’s true whether we’re talking about our own eternity, or that of someone we care for.
I wonder if Doug knew what was coming next. Did he make any attempt to find out during his final months? To determine his best possible destination and how to get there? Did he prepare for it in any special way? And just as important, did he share his findings with those he cared about?
Or did Doug end his days the way most people do in our oh-so-sophisticated world, wasting that precious time trying to wring a little more pleasure, and a little more quality, out of life?