The Daily Lesson
I have a friend, a work colleague who was diagnosed several years ago with a rare, terminal disease. The disease itself, the details are unimportant. The lessons, the examples that he sets, that’s where the richness resides. You see, the lessons are unintended and subtle. He is not a man of bravado. His perseverance is something we have all grown accustomed to over the years, yet we should not lose sight of the strength it takes for him to keep going through the ups and downs of his illness.
Lesson one – Attitude is Everything. He is a favorite among almost everyone he encounters. This is partly because he is logical and smart and pretty much unflappable. He rarely gets riled and when he does, his sarcastic wit and humor almost makes you wish it happened more often. As I step back from the daily interactions I have with him, I am in awe of his ability to soldier on under the ever present threat against his health and well-being.
Lesson two – Family is Everything. Throughout his illness he had made herculean efforts to protect his family, to shield them from the relentless pressure his diagnosis can bring. Selflessness is a rare quality these days but I see his example in everything he does to nurture his wife, his children, his parents. His love for them is evident and ever present.
Lesson three – Let People In. As a man who is geared towards being intensely private, I can only imagine the uncomfortable feelings he must have about sharing his journey with friends, family and co-workers and yet he does it frequently. He shares the triumphs with joy and the bumps in the road with straight forward honesty and overlays it all with a healthy dose of humor. I admire this vulnerability so much.
Lesson four – Don’t Give Up Time. Perhaps this is the most important and most humbling lesson of all. He refuses to let the disease take any more time from him than is required to treat it, to keep it at bay. He never complains. While many of us are talking about our minor aches and pains, he is refusing to let any time be dedicated to that. He is an inspiration in this regard and everyone he encounters could learn something here.
I am pretty sure he is unaware of the lessons he teaches us each day. He is also unaware of impact he as a person and his graceful, almost elegant handling of the awful hand he was dealt has on all of us. Perhaps the last lesson he’s teaching is that we should tell him more often just how amazing and inspirational he is. I am so fortunate that I get to work with him each day. Not just because he is smart and capable and always has my back, but because he helps me get through the craziness of the work world with humor and fun. I am lucky to have him as my friend as we share life’s journeys, celebrating the wins together and consoling each other on the losses. I am one hundred percent certain that I would not be able to handle a similar situation with the humility and strength he does but he inspires me daily to want to try to do better, to be better. I hope he knows how much he means to me, to all of us and that he continues the good fight for many years to come.