A Life Left Too Early

originalThis morning, I received news that a friend in San Francisco had died. He was around my age and about six months ago was diagnosed with cancer. In his final hours, friends had shared stories and memories of him on his Facebook page and his family read the posts to him as he lay in bed. Then this morning my time, the family posted that he had passed.

I’m reaching the age, mid-40s, where I’m starting to encounter more deaths of people my age. A few high school classmates, a few colleagues. Of course the frequency will only rise and I know that this is part of life. But there is something that leaves me feeling a bit melancholy to see someone around my age lose their life.

Many times, I have asked myself how I would respond if I was diagnosed with a terminal disease. How hard would I fight to extend my life. Coincidentally, this morning as I drove to work I was listening to a Freakonomics podcast about this question: what is the value of quality of life versus quantity of life, when one is facing a terminal illness?

Of course it is easy to have an opinion on this when not faced with the actual dilemma, but I imagine I would opt for palliative care over aggressive treatment. I would rather enjoy the time I have left, then live longer but be in needless suffering.

Whatever the case, here’s a thought to the life of Wilson Fang. We weren’t close, but my life was better for having known him. And maybe that’s the highest tribute we can give anyone.

16 thoughts on “A Life Left Too Early

  1. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend…and I understand what it is like to suddenly start seeing names of people you know and love in the obituary column! Since our family was touched by cancer this year, I have thought of the same question that you have been pondering, I am by no means afraid of death – but the JOURNEY of getting to that point is something I have pondered. My Mother chose palliative care, over aggressive treatment, when her cancer returned for the 2nd time, but she was 93 years old, had lived a wonderful long life and it was a decision that I supported wholeheartedly. I think that the quality of the life that was still left to me would be the deciding factor about how hard I wanted to “fight” to prolong that life. I have made my wishes known to my husband and children, so that they can help me carry out those wishes. I never knew if I could do that, for my parents but when the time came, it was the right thing to follow their wishes.

  2. I’m sorry to hear of the loss of a friend of yours. Mid-40s is way too young to go, I think. I still feel this is far away for me to confront, but really, it’s not. It can happen at any moment to anyone. When I hear of people passing I do feel sad for those affected by someone passing, but I also want to think about how I can take something from the news. Maybe to learn to appreciate life more, and to be more positive about things.

  3. I read this when I was on my lunch break. I’m really struggling for words as this caught me off guard.

    My condolences on the loss of your friend. What you said about your life being better for having known him is indeed a wonderful tribute. I loved what his friends and family did in reading the posts in his Facebook page. I’ve read and have been told that a person’s hearing is one of the last things to go. While they can’t respond, they can still hear you.

    I hope when the time comes, I go quickly and painlessly… and if need be, under my control.

  4. My blessings of a peaceful journey to the other side for your friend, dear Chris. Live your life to the fullest, as if it is the last day of your life. Enjoy that day to the maximum and feel the love in your heart always. I am sure your friend felt honored and grateful that you were his friend. Love and hugs to you dear heart.

  5. my condolences on the passing of your friend. may he rests in peace. yes, i agree with you. it’s best to live a full life though shorter, than a longer life with sufferings. HUGS.

    • That’s actually an interesting question. I’d almost prefer to know that my life is coming to an end so that I and my loved ones have time to say our goodbyes. Just being struck by a truck would be so sudden.

  6. My condolences…I remember a short conversation I had with Daniel about the same question and I also would choose not to fight. That was before I had the children, and if undergoing gruelling treatment meant I would stand a chance of a few more years with them, I may choose differently…like you say, it really is hard to know for sure what we’d do until we’re faced with the real thing…

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