My Mr. Z wrote this a couple of weeks before he died. I published it here on my blog shortly after the funeral, 5 1/2 years ago. He was mentioned on the Comments Pages this week and that prompted me to publish this here today. From October, 2009:
“Survival Guide……or The Worth of a Life”
There’s a Russian, one of the richest men in the world, who owns a yacht worth $850 million and the English soccer club FC Chelsea. I am sure he knows a lot of people in the ‘in crowd’, but I fear these people would drop him like a hot potato if he lost all his riches. I am saying this because at the end of the day he will face the Almighty with just a shirt on, like everybody else, but very likely with nothing else to speak of. Sadly, “empty” would probably characterize him correctly.
These thoughts came to my mind recently when I was thinking about my situation. I have a very grave illness (Z: Amyloidosis) and, when you are in a situation like this, you think about the meaning of life and whether it is really worth fighting for. I am well aware that there are people with more serious problems than the ones I am facing; as a matter of fact, we don’t have to look too far beyond our own circle of friends for that. But every situation is individually different and I can only speak for myself. I have invented a “Misery Factor“ with a scale of 1 to 10 to assess my situation, 10 being the worst. If I didn’t take chemotherapy, I am sure that, over the short or long term, it would approach a 10 permanently. With the therapy, it appears that the factor can be kept in check, and we will be able to see over time whether the corresponding blood values return to normal. I am optimistic. But I have to step back for a moment and explain what keeps me going.
The first factor is the doctors. After the first symptoms, it took quite a while to correctly diagnose this extremely rare disease. I was very touched by the concern and care these doctors showed in their almost zealous drive to find out what was wrong. I was also extremely impressed that these excellent doctors put their egos aside and consulted with other doctors when they felt like their amazing talents had hit a wall. This team of doctors ultimately got me to the one specialist in the LA area who deals with this illness – and he implemented immediately this chemotherapy with which he has had some good results in other patients. My point is: If they are personally that concerned about me and encourage this strenuous treatment, how can I not go for it?
But there is another, even more important reason. First of all, the care which I receive from my dear wife makes it possible for me to survive this ordeal at all. Not that I hadn’t expected that, but it has also brought us even closer together. In addition, I had never imagined such an outpouring of prayers and help keeping up my morale from my family and friends here, my family and friends overseas, and from many, many people whom I have never met or even heard of, through prayer chains, cards, emails and calls. This is unconditional love and concern and it comes in an avalanche which I would have never thought possible. It truly has caught me by surprise – but it shouldn’t have surprised me really, knowing the tightly knit family, the many old friends, and the religious roots of many of our (and mostly my wife’s) friends.
This clearly gives me the feeling that not only am I still needed and cared for on this earth, but that I will not stand with empty hands and only a shirt on when the time comes, facing the Almighty in whom my faith has solidified and who has always come through for me and my wife.This is a very comforting feeling and strongly confirms what is really important in life – it is certainly not the biggest yacht, or ownership of a soccer team; those things will mean nothing when any of us meets our Maker.
Z: A Postscript to this is that I printed this piece on card stock for the funeral hand-outs, with his picture on the cover and the funeral schedule inside….and I sent it to his specialists with thank you notes for all they did, including his heart doctor, who I went to see a few weeks after the Services and who came into the exam room and said “I have what your husband wrote standing on my desk, I show it to everybody who comes in and read it to them!” I even heard from people on Facebook that strangers had found it and republished it on their Facebook pages. I had have some X-rays a month or so later and I took it to our radiologist, who is an acquaintance of many years and, when I was leaving and turned a corner down the hall, saw Mrs. Radiologist reading it to about six technicians. This really had legs and I was so proud that it did. It meant a lot that people were so moved by it and I hope you are blessed by reading it, too. Mr. Z died from Amyloidosis. I link HERE to information I wrote about this very rare disease in case it can help someone.
Be optimistic, have faith, never complain, and remember that THINGS don’t matter. For Mr. Z’s sake…….
And, by the way, have a wonderful Palm Sunday.