May 6, 2014
A week ago at the end of a 30-minute phone conversation, a good friend of mine said, “you should start writing, it would be good for you, and you’re a good writer.” Terry Pettit has written several books and has a mind that looks at life from just a slightly different perspective. But in turning that crystal ever so slightly like Terry does, an array of light exposes an entirely different vantage point and I have always loved to discuss, argue, laugh, and be enriched in my time with him. So when someone a lot smarter than me thinks I might have something to say that would be of interest and has the talent to put it to words, I listened. Then I thought. Next the ideas starting coming. First a small trickle, then a steady stream, and within two days I couldn’t sleep as my mind became consumed with what I could share.
So why did Terry tell me to start writing?
Because I am going to die.
On April 16, 2014, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to my liver. Cancer…the word that brings fear to the most brave of souls. Mine is inoperable, stage four, and with an average life expectancy of one year. I’ve officially boarded the Last Train. My ticket has been punched, the destination determined, and I’m on board with only the exact time of final departure unknown.
But while I would have preferred to put this trip off for 20 or 30 years, I’m not afraid of my final ride. At least I say that right now. Only time will tell if my thoughts or attitudes change. If they do change, though, I’ll share them here as I take you with me on this journey.
So what will I be writing about? A multitude of topics! I started a list of possible topics a week ago and I’m already up to 73. That’s how my mind works, once I get on to something the ideas just start flowing and I become consumed…my wife Maria would probably say obsessed.
My hope is what I share will encourage you and give you some insight as to what it’s like to be on The Last Train. Perhaps my words will also provide you courage when it’s time for you to board The Last Train, because it is one trip we are all guaranteed to take.
But more than that, I hope my words encourage you to make the most of the train ride you are on right now. That’s really what is important to make the most of your life right now and to have a positive impact on the people in your life right now.
Oh…and let’s get this out of the way right from the start. Just because I say I’ve boarded The Last Train and am going to die doesn’t mean I’ve given up. I’m going to fight this cancer with everything I’ve got and if God has a miracle cure or if somehow the drugs I’ll be taking work wonders, I’m all for it! I’d love nothing better than for people to say “this crazy guy started writing about how he is going to die and he’s still at it 10 years later.”
But I’m also a realist. When I first learned I might have pancreatic cancer, I got on the web to start researching. After about an hour, I quit reading and haven’t gone back since. The statistics are very sobering.
Let’s also say I’ve got a funny feeling (an odd way to describe it) that God is telling me “it’s time to get ready son, the clock is ticking.” And I’m okay with that. I’ve had a wonderful life full of many adventures and great experiences. I have more friends than I can count who have enriched my life and I am surrounded by a special family where fun and unconditional love is in abundance. So I consider myself very blessed…even now.
I’ve seen first-hand what it is like for a person to die from cancer. My dad died 18 years ago from prostate cancer. I saw him grow weak, suffer in pain, and slowly whither away. But I also saw peace and love and even joy. We had great talks right up until the last two weeks when his body and mind were no longer able to continue and he peacefully passed from this world. I will write as long as I am able. Even when I’m too weak to write anymore, I’ll have my son Zach continue to ask me questions and share any final perspectives…just in case there might be something special in those last days.
Finally, I think I know why Terry encouraged me to start writing. He knew it would be good for my soul. I hope I can be like Terry and turn that crystal ever so slightly and share with you a different and valuable new perspective.
So stay tuned…who knows where this Last Train might take us!
(If you would like to become a regular reader of The Last Train, just click the “follow” link on the bottom right of the home page. Put in your e-mail address and you’ve got a ticket to join me on this journey. Each new chapter will be e-mailed directly to you.)