The other night, I received an email from a long and very dear friend.
The subject line stated “the end is near.”
My heart stopped. Betsy was letting their friends know about Frank’s health. He had a brain tumor, which had been in remission for the last six years, but had now found its way to other parts of his body—not a good sign. She went on to say she was not sure she wanted to burden all of us with the grim news but realized many of us would want to say our “goodbyes” either through a card or email. Her husband was not receiving visitors except immediate family.
Conway and I called her immediately. She spoke about how her family has been given the gift of an additional six years having him in their lives. About how he has been able to share endless days with his grandsons as they were dropped off on certain mornings of the week, of watching them learn to ski, of watching them play sports, and of seeing them interact at school. And even the gift of closure and unresolved issues. I agreed, these were indeed gifts.
But there is also something beyond the outer gifts. What about the inner? What about the importance of prioritizing your life when you have been given such grave news? What about standing up and being pro-active about fighting for your health, trying to beat the odds? He did! Betsy researched and dove into any and all information she could get her hands on. She was relentless; she was and still is his right hand. They were and still are a team to be reckoned with. He wrote a book about his journey and contributed all the proceeds to Mass General in Boston. He changed his diet; he ran mini marathons; he biked with the best of them; he continued to live his life as he saw fit. He surrounded himself with positivity; he took no prisoners.
He instinctively knew what was important in his life, for he never knew when it would end.
He was grateful for every minute, every second. His quiet demeanor radiated the room. When he had something to say, it was powerful. While listening to you, he made you feel special, like you mattered.
I am grateful to have had him in my life. His friendship means the world to me. To have been able to share years of chairlift and gondola rides, to ski nonstop runs down the Lynx, and even to watch his home-cooked lunch be interrupted by our then six year old, “Frank, want to take a run?” And yes, he put away his soup and dropped his sandwich and headed out with Taylor for one more run!
I will truly miss this man! My heart is heavy and the tears are forming as I write this.
But what I have learned from him?
Look for the pearls of life. Clarify, be specific in what you surround yourself with and with whom. Life is precious.
P.S. The snow has fallen on Mt. Washington. When I take to the slopes this winter, I will know that Frank is watching, somewhere skiing with a smile ear to ear. I will be chattering to him as I always did, for he will be with us all in spirit. You will be missed, my dear friend, you will be sincerely missed.
As featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, and FOX News affiliates across the country, Sallie Felton is a life coach, international radio talk show host, author, facilitator and inspirational speaker. For more info on Sallie, please visit her WEBSITE or follow her on TWITTER.
*Photo by DrLaunch.