Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Three Days to Live

Want to know if you're truly happy? Ask yourself this question:

If you were told you had three days to live, what would you change?

Tonight as I was driving home and listening to a novel on my iPod, the main character said that this is the question to ask to learn if you're truly happy. "The correct answer," he said, "is nothing."

It got me to thinking ... what would I want to do in those three days? It's not enough time to see the wonders of the world. It's too long to give your family one last heartfelt goodbye hug. It's even too short to "put your affairs in order." Of course, there's no way to know what I'd do, since I foresee a long, healthy life ahead of me (fingers crossed) and I don't expect to be faced with that question anytime soon.

This question is coupled with the experience this past weekend of having my parents visit. They are facing the end of their lives. They've been married for fifty-five years - an astounding number in itself, but made even more astounding by the fact that they've been in love for all those years. Now that my father is losing much of who he is to dementia as my mother watches helplessly from the sidelines, I am a witness to seeing two people face the beginning of the end. A stark contrast to being confronted with three days of life left.

What would each of them change? Without a doubt, each of them would say, "Nothing."

So what would I do? What would I change? I'd hold my kids closer, spend more time cuddling and wrestling, eat a pizza and a cheeseburger, and get H to take the days off. I'd call my family and have long talks. What else is there? Family, love, and the knowledge that you've loved and been loved.

As my children find careers and have families of their own, and as they go through their lives, this is what I want for them. The ability to be able to answer, "Nothing."

What would I change? Not a damn thing.


  1. Sigh, I would love, hug, and laugh more. I would be a bigger cheerleader to friends and family. I'm working on that. One thing that I am doing that I really enjoy is making friends through blogging. Thank you.

  2. Ditto to what Era sundar says! I'd want to make sure I let my husband know I totally trust him with all the decisions with A, and to be sure to try to find someone (almost) as wonderful as me again :). I thought about all this a lot when I heard about "The Last Lecture."

  3. This is such a great perspective to always, always keep in mind. I see my father practicing this all the time, esp. since he was diagnosed with ALS. I truly believe he will go with no regrets. Thanks for the reminder!