To celebrate a recent birthday milestone J I decided to read the book by the late Gene O’Kelly, “Chasing Daylight-How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life”.
Reading the words of a dying man will certainly motivate you to think and as Mr. O’Kelly pointed out in his book, not everyone gets the chance to plan out the last 2-3 months of their life. But his diagnosis was such that it allowed him to function at a very high level physically and mentally; which allowed him to capture his thoughts on planning to die, dying, and life after death. While I don’t consider all of Mr. Kelly’s content Christ centered, I do believe his practice of examining what remained of his life on earth and his life beyond should be a practice of every Christian. In Psalm 90:12 we are encouraged, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” I believe this the essence Jesus example while he lived on earth and spoke of Father in Heaven and His coming Kingdom.
Here are a few of my takeaways from the book. Mr. O’Kelly’s hope was that the living would use what he found in dying, to live more fully.
- Much of the sympathy we feel toward people who are dying can actually be emotions toward ourselves. In short, their dying reminds us that we will be dying as well.
- Most of our daily frustrations come from our expectations or NOT ACCEPTING the way things are. Mr. O’Kelly states that he had to arrive at a point of “accepting acceptance”, accepting the way things were. Knowing they would not get better allowed him to fully enjoy the time he had left.
- Learning to live in the present moment by lowering our expectations about our present circumstances and future desires will help us create more “perfect moments”.
He brought all of his relationships to a close starting with phone calls and emails to friends and acquaintances (which took him three weeks). He then worked through family relationships; end with his children and wife. In some formal sense he wanted to say goodbye. This practice revealed the following for those of us who still have time.
- Relationships Matter Most
- Slow Down!
- It’s rewarding to have deep conversations with people.
- Be More Spontaneous
- Tell people how much you care about them today (you may not get the chance.)
- Write letters to your loved ones that would help them gain closure in the event of your passing.
I certainly do not consider this book a Christ center book, however, looking over some of the discovery’s made during his last days, certainly gives me direction and motivation on how to live the days God has given me. Write out your personal reflections, or read the book for yourself, but either way you will be blessed by this most difficult practice.