On Borrowed Time

The priest came to pray for her husband, as the hour of his expiration drew increasingly near, but he was not ready to go. He wanted more time. He wished he could borrow time - time to spend with his wife and daughter, time to put his affairs in order so his family would be financially sound. However, his time was up. His wife and daughter left destitute. As we stood on the sand with the wind tickling our skin, she painted a bleak picture of her husband trying to fight death, wishing he could somehow borrow time. Her words frightened me and snapped me out of the dream I was in, where I told myself time was on my side. We both stood on the sand staring at the sun rising, as the tears ran down our faces. Her story so powerful, unifying us both in an instant at the shared realization of the gravity of her situation. At that moment it felt as if we were transfixed with the realization that our time was short, and we could not borrow time even if we wished too. This was the plight of a lovely woman I had the pleasure of spending a week with at the beach. 

Two years is the average life expectancy for someone diagnosed with the type of pancreatic cancer, my high school teacher has. When the doctor told him two years was the average life expectancy, it gripped him and gave him a new sense of urgency. Although this news shocks him to the core, he wanted to use every bit of the two years to write and share stories with others. He decided to be courageous.  He was taught to fight even when the odds looked stacked against him. Although he was in a lot of pain from cancer that ravished his body and weak from the chemotherapy, he was determined to finish his third book. And he did.

On the eve of the two-year diagnosis, he thought for sure he would die. He stared at the clock thinking his death was imminent. However, he did not die as predicted. He lived! It has been more than two years now and he tells me that he is now living on borrowed time. He is happy to have beat the odds, but he is still battling cancer. However, he is more determined to make his life count by cherishing his family and friends and writing books and telling the stories of amazing men and women. 

What can we glean from these two stories? One with a man wishing he could have borrowed time and another thinking his time was ending but now living on what he calls borrowed time. There are many lessons here. For me, the most poignant lesson is tomorrow is not promised. It is easy to forget the brevity of life and think that we have tomorrow. We often put off the important for the urgent, thinking we will do it later but what if later never comes? What if our later is now? Tomorrow is not promised, and we cannot borrow time. I would hate to come to the end of my life hoping to borrow time. I wish to come to the end knowing that I used my time wisely and created a legacy that I am proud of and that I was able to leave a happy distinctive mark on the world. 

We all have a choice. We can choose to waste our time or maximize the time we have and do the things that would make us most proud when we come to the end of our lives.  Why should we wait for a tragedy to strike before we decide to seize the day? Why should we wait till we are on death’s door to wish to borrow time when we can use the time we have now? The time for us to build meaningful relationships is now, the time for us to be kind and generous is now, the time for us to mend is now, the time for us to build a legacy is now. Try as we might, we cannot borrow time. 

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