Sunday, January 11, 2009

Time: The Dash of Life

The holiday's are done and time moves on. We spent three days at Children's, just for standard scans...all providing good results. As always, there are still "questionable" area's on the scans, but that is common and expected to continue for another 6 months or so. Tyler continues to feel great and exceed all the doc's expectations both physically and academically.

The most significant milestone for our son, 6 months of clear remission, was reached two days before Christmas...the celebration of the birth of God's son. Tyler's success is nothing short of a miracle. We are very thankful to God for this, as well as to all of you who have provided so much in prayers and support. Just in case there were any questions...Christmas is much better at home than in the hospital.

Over the holidays there is always talk about traditions and heritage, which often leads to old family stories. As we tell the stories, I think about the legacy a family has. I think about the character and value lessons that shape the way a family functions. I guess the legacy we leave will last much longer than anything else. Our impact on the lives of others will last much longer than our very names. If you think about it, every one us has at least 8 great-grandparents. But how many of them can we name? The point is, even within our own family, we will be forgotten in a few generations. But far more important than our name is the legacy we leave behind. That is what survives the test of time. The impact we have on others. How we improve the lives of people around us.

We have been to far to many funerals in the past year. What I find interesting is that the dominate information on the grave stone is stuff we do not control. Name - Birth Date - Date of Death. But we control none of that. None of that really defines us. None of it talks about who we really are as individuals.

It has been said our life is summed up in that dash between the birth date and death date. The Dash of Life. How effectively did we use the time in that dash? That is truly the only thing we control in this life. That is the invaluable lesson of cancer. We do not control the dates on that stone. We only control the dash...our effectiveness with the time we have. Did we waste the time, or did we use it to impact others for good. And, as I have now learned, our ability for impact has little to do with the length of time in that dash. At only 16 years old, Tyler's courage has impacted me greatly. It has changed me. No one could meet these young people and walk away unchanged. I have looked into the eyes of pure courage and determination. Eyes that refuse to lose.

As our family sits around and talks, it seems my legacy is mostly stupid things. Falling out of tree's, crashing through mail boxes on my roller blades, drilling screws through my hand, getting bit by a shark, crashing the church van...and of course all my accidents involving Drano bombs, fire works, water balloon canons, and paintball guns. Normal every day dad stuff like that.

But beyond the funny stories (and they are very funny), there is the stuff that lasts much longer. The stuff that teaches life, that changes life. I believe we are all here for a reason. I believe there is a purpose that everyone of us is uniquely created to achieve. And years or generations from now, that is what will be remembered. The impact we have had on others. How effectively we used our time. How we took advantage of our opportunities. How we spent our Dash of Life.

I used to believe it was sufficient to have a good life and be a good person. I no longer believe that. I now believe we are called to greatness. To fight for a cause, and achieve great results. I believe I know why children have cancer. It is because we are supposed to cure it. The reason people suffer is so we can comfort them, feed them, cloth them, heal them. AJ's Petition, Alex's Lemonade, St. Baldricks, Make-A-Wish, Team-in-Training, even the Bone Marrow Registry. Everyone started by anonymous people who made a decision to make a difference. Everyone of us can do this. Maybe in a small way. Maybe in a big way. And maybe, just maybe, we can participate in a miracle that effects lives for generations to come.

Some might think this is a very naive viewpoint. But frankly, I don't care what they think. I have watched these children. I have watched them walk their path of greatness as it took them straight through hell itself. How can I expect any less of myself? What possible excuse could I use to justify my lack of effort?

If my struggle with cancer galvanizes actions of goodness, I can rest assured that even if I succumb to the rogue cells, I will leave behind a legacy of victory. Dying is not what scares me, it’s dying having had no impact. I know a lot of eyes are watching me suffer; and---win or lose---this is my time for impact. This is my hour.

--Miles Levin

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
--Mary Oliver

Fan into the flame the gift of God which is in you…for God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline.
--1 Timothy 1:6,7

Where is God? Wherever you let God in.
--Rabbi Nahman of Bretslav

All you touch and all you see,
Is all your life will ever be.
--Pink Floyd

In the coming world, they will not ask me, "Why were you not Moses?". They will ask me "Why were you not Zusya?".
--Rabbi Zusya

This is the true meaning of life, the being used for a purpose that is mightier than you. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
--George Bernard Shaw


Anonymous said...

Lovely post, Kyle. I've been a long time organ donour, only to find that if my Lupus comes out of remission, it will not only kill me, slowly, but they will not harvest my organs. That makes me so sad, but I am determined to not die from lupus so my 'shell' of a body can give life once I've gone to the Creator.

Mom said...


Beautifully written. I sent this posting on to our Dicovery Class Bible Study. You remind us all to make every day count and every action to have for a positive mission. God Bless these children and may God strengthen their fight.