Wednesday, September 14, 2005

90 days to live

Our neighbor Tom is dying, of lung cancer. He has been battling it for a few years now, but apparently the doctors have told him that he has just about 3 months to live.

Three months, 90 days, approximately 2160 hours

I don’t know Tom very well, just the occasional hello when we pass each other on the street or the wave out when he sometimes sits out on his porch, taking in a beautiful day, or mowing his lawn on his tractor mower. But I still feel some kind of empathy, some sense of loss, to know that he will be gone, in about three months.

Tom is an old war veteran, who seems to have lived a full life, has now the company of his devoted wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren around him, and generally seems content with life. It seems like he is ready, now that his time has come. But I don’t know him, it’s just my presumption.

His wife, Pat, comes over to chat with us sometimes, and her eyes moist over when she speaks about Tom’s hardships and the treatment that he is undergoing, which is currently failing him. They have been married about 50 odd years, and seem to have taken in the highs and the low’s that life throws at you with graceful equanimity.

Every morning, when I leave for work, I look across at Tom’s porch. Sometimes he is seated on their porch bench, reading his paper, and sometimes it’s vacant.

And sometimes I wonder…

What would it be like to know that you had finite number of days to live? In a sense, all of us know that we have finite number of days to live. Despite that, do we choose to live any differently?

What would matter most in life? What wouldn’t matter the most?

Just as some chemical reactions initiated us into existence, some other reactions will dismiss us into oblivion. A life time of memories, now gone. And that’s that.

What will run through my mind when the very last moments of life desert me?

When faced with 90 days to spend the rest your life, as you see fit, what choices would you make? Who would you choose to be with or not to be with? Places you might like to visit, sights to see, sounds to hear and food to taste?

90 days. To reminiscence, the choices of a lifetime.

We shall miss the presence of that elderly gentleman, when we look across our yard, at a bench on the porch, now empty. In approximately 90 days.


Blogger Sakshi said...

My heart goes out to Tom's wife Pat. She surely is a strong women. I feel it will be te hardest on his wife...his kids will feel his loss...but they have their own family..which will help them cope. But for Pat..loosing her partner of 50 years..will never be able to cope with the loss completely.

I say so..from an experience of loosing an immidetaite family member.

I wish them...all the luck and happiness that life has to offer.

5:15 AM  
Blogger Sujatha said...

Sourin, very poignant story.

Sakshi, I agree. When my grandfather died, we all felt sad, but one look at my grandma and I knew she was feeling something that none of us could even come close to feeling.

7:00 AM  
Blogger gawker said...

Heartbreaking. Although, I guess for Tom, it might even be a relief because it means he will be free of the pain.

7:47 AM  
Blogger The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

in life we're always waiting for the next big thing to happen - marriage, kids then grandkids... it's sad that someone now is waiting for death

7:52 AM  
Blogger Anshul said...

It's tough to read this, Sourin! Really tougher for Pat...I'm sure. It's the toughest when you are being told that one has finite numbers to live.

I sincerely wish them all the strength and courage.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous arZan said...

Really sad !!

An issue that we all have to ponder upon one day in the future.

When you equate it to the hours left, the world and all the issues we seem to deal with today, seem so frivolous and childish.

Strength to Tom and the family in the days to come. They will need loads of it.

4:15 PM  
Blogger chappan said...

Sakshi, Sujatha, CG, SF, Anshul,Arzan
Thanks for all the kind words.

Yes the issues of today seem so trivial, when compared to life and death issues.

As SF mentioned we wait for the next big thing, all our lives. Just imagine, what kind of a wait this woulod be?

I'm sure that, as Gawker mentioned, he would be wanting to be relieved of his misery because of his illness.

Oh well, such is life. Wonder why we take it so damn seriously?

7:09 PM  
Blogger Sunil said...

How do you wait for death? What do you wake up every morning and think of?

I can't even begin to imagine how it's like....

7:42 PM  
Blogger Minal said...

Hey Sourin,
A very touching post.

Completely agree with Sakshi and Sujatha.

I know it from my personal experience. It will be very difficult for Pat to cope up with Tom's loss. I pray that God Almighty gives her all the strength in the world.

5:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesnt something like this humble you and make you pause from the mad race that most of our lives have become.. and make you think about what really matters?

I had one such reality check a couple of years ago.. when a colleague was diagonized with Stage IV colon cancer.. after a pause.. some thoughts, insights and sighs.. life moved on! Sigh!

The least we could do is atleast communicate to our loved ones,.. how loved and cherished they are!

Hoping for some peace in their lives..

4:01 PM  
Blogger Prahalathan said...

Death cant be beaten...
I dont think most of us can enjoy our last days with the countdown running against us...

5:17 AM  

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