For those of you who may be new to this blog, or to me in general, this title may sound a bit confusing. Let me explain. Last year I had open-heart surgery and had a brief flirtation with death. This cannot help but change someone’s life. I am sure you can appreciate that even if you have managed to stay on the right side of the great beyond. I am extremely fortunate that God was much like every hotel I have ever checked into. When I got there, I was told, “Your room is not ready yet. Please come back later.” Trust me when I tell you that, at the very least, I never get upset having to wait to check into a hotel anymore. There were many things that I walked away with from this experience. I chronicled them all in my book, The Beat Goes On.
What I would really like to share with you is the powerful thing I learned before I died. It happened when Margie and I were at the movies roughly 2 months before my surgery. That is not us in the picture above. I am shorter and Margie is cuter. I had been diagnosed with the problem, aneurysm on my artery, 3 years prior. They told me it could unexpectedly explode at anytime and I would die. As you can imagine, that causes a slight shift in the way you live your life. Every pain at the gym was initially viewed as “Did I rupture it?” I say initially because even the looming specter of possible death hanging over you like a storm cloud, can become oddly routine.
This all changed when they told me that I did indeed need surgery. They told me the surgery was dangerous and there was a chance I might not make it through. Oh, and how about having it in 2 months right after the first of the year? It may seem like I am making light of it now, but that is actually how it went down. After setting a date for the surgery, Margie and I went on a date of our own to the movies. An hour into the film, I regretted drinking several cups of coffee before we left and excused myself to the men’s room. It was there that I realized the full extent of what dying might mean. It could mean that would be my last thanksgiving, my last Christmas, and who knows, my last movie with the woman I love. This realization did not bring on a feeling of fear or dread. It actually brought on a sense of urgency. How could I make the most of all of those events? Thinking of Margie, I began to wonder, “What could I do that would make this woman understand how much I love her even if I am gone?” Then my brain went into overdrive multiplying that to include all the people an events in my life. I began to wonder if I had shared enough content? Had I inspired all of the people I could? When it came right down to it, the burning question was, “Had I done enough to leave the world a better place than when I arrived?” Not only for those I deeply care about, but for the world as a whole?
These were deep questions that did not have easy answers. What they did do was light a fire under me to take action. Do you think you have time to make the world a better place? Do you think you have time before you die to not only tell but have those you care about feel how much you love them? Do you know what you could do to accomplish these things? Do you know how long that might take? Do you have enough time left to do so? If you are mulling these thoughts around in your mind, you might have come up with the question, “How do I know how much time I have left?” That is a great question. None of us do. Before going into the hospital for an unrelated issue, I had zero idea there was anything wrong with my heart. This is true for most people with an aneurysm. You feel great and then you fall over. It is pretty much that quick. There are no warning signs. That is why you not only need to get checked out regularly, but you need to have a sense of urgency and do all you can to leave the world a better place by sharing the gifts that were given to you and only you.