Is there anything more valuable in life then time? The older I get the clearer the answer to this Question becomes. Unequivocally the answer is no. Unfortunately, it has taken a long time and some HUGE life issues to learn this. The last few weeks of my brother’s life really brought this home for me. Sitting there by his bedside watching him take his last breaths of life are moments I shall never forget. I almost missed this opportunity because I didn’t want to remember him like this. When I knew it was imminent, I wanted to run away. The fear in me was trying to take control. But thank God for my wife Heather and her calming words and unconditional love. She helped me see another side of this and make the choice to stay and be with him every second he had left (as difficult as that was). I’m certain I would have regretted leaving in the months and years to come, especially giving what I was heading into: my OWN cancer battle. The sight of my brother’s lifeless body was very difficult to see and even remembering it today brings tears to my eyes; but I have a plethora of more pleasant and vibrant pictures of him in my mind from the many years of adventures we shared and that makes it more bearable.
I woke up this morning missing my brother. It’s been a little over 7 years since I last heard his voice. Oh, how I have longed to call him and vent or ask his advice or opinion on things. He was my ‘go to’ when I was struggling and even if I didn’t agree with his advice/opinion, I just felt better talking to him. I wonder what advice he would’ve given me through my cancer battle? Actually, I’m pretty sure I know. He taught me so much without saying much. I remember his struggles; I remember how he advocated for his own health. I remember how he researched and didn’t take everything the doctor told him as the only solutions in his fight with cancer. I remember how hard he worked on not just getting healthy, but staying healthy. He attacked cancer on all fronts: Physical, mental and emotional. Steve always had an ‘all in’ mentality. He either gave it 110% or nothing. He NEVER thought of himself as a ‘victim’. He lived a tumultuous life. He overcame drugs and alcohol addiction and got a black belt in Taekwondo in the process. 110%. He loved music and could play the drums piano and guitar. 110%. Eventually he settled on guitar and mastered the difficult finger picking style. 110%. Eventually he opened a guitar shop in the Miami area and even designed and built electric guitars! 110%. But sadly, cancer made a comeback and he had to close the shop. Right around this time, he met a South American pop star who really liked Steve’s music. He would go on to record with this Latin star on an album, co-writing 2 songs. 110%. Had his health not taken a deadly turn, Steve would’ve gone on tour… But that was not to be.
Yes, I know what he probably would’ve told me: “Just do the next thing”. “Don’t allow yourself to feel like a victim”. “Keep pushing”. “Keep the faith”.
We have no control over the cards we’re delt, but we can control how we react to them. He never could’ve done all he had without his Faith. I never once heard him question it. The more adversity he faced, the harder he leaned on his faith. He was Job. He may be absent from my world these past 7 plus years, but I continue to learn from him. His actions echo in my conscience. Time spent with him was invaluable. I strive to keep that value in mind as I spend time with my 91 y.o. mom in her last years on earth. I am blessed to have her under my roof and in the care of my exceptional wife. She is the best caregiver I could possibly provide my mother.
Hearing my mother’s stories will be invaluable memories in the future. We are creating more than just memories. We are creating a priceless reference library that will serve us well as we age.
In closing, I would urge you to reevaluate your most precious relationships and not take them (or time) for granted. Make that phone call. Make amends or whatever you need to do. Regrets are awful hard to live with! Time is truly the most valuable asset we have. Live with intention. Love on those you ought to love without reserve. Cherrish the moments that will one day be memories. Don’t take one minute for granted and lean on your faith.