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He lived a good life, right?

Inspired by NDTV and Fortis Health4UCancerthon, this Sunday, Richard and I decided to do our bit for those, who have in some way or the other been affected by the disease- either as a patient or as a caregiver. Being a very informal thing, we stuck to those we know and would be responsive to our care.
During the course of the day, I paid a visit to dear Mrs. K, a 60 something lady of utmost grit and strength. After having lost her husband to colo-rectal cancer two years ago, Mrs. K recently was operated for a benign lump in her breast. She now partners with many NGO’s in and around Delhi providing care and financial support to terminal patients. More than all that she does, it is what she said that showed her maturity level, her strength within and her understanding of life as a whole.
“I lost my dad to colo-rectal cancer 4 months back and I am still not able to come to terms with it”, I said. “It’s probably not the death alone. What is really upsetting me is the way he suffered the last few months of his life and the week before demise. It wasn’t a pleasant sight at all. I know my father has to die someday, but I wish he didn’t suffer so much. The disease literally ate him up inside out. He was a mere frame in the end.” It was an emotional outburst from my end. She sat quiet listening, stoic.
After I had calmed down, she began,”How old was your father when he passed away?” I said 70. “And he fought cancer for 5 years, which means he was diagnosed at the age of 65, right?” she asked. Ok now that is not difficult mathematics. She continued,”How was your father’s life for 65 years?” “Hmmm”, I said, “Well the usual life, earning a living and raising a family”. She asked immediately,” So he had no ailments in his life?” I said no. “Then you have no reason to be upset, “she said.
I was shocked at her response. Here I was grieving my father’s death, and the one sitting in front of me tells me not to be upset.  She said,” look at it this way. He lived a good life, a life a lot of people may crave for but never actually get. A healthy, normal family life with beautiful relationships around. It was only the last five years of his life that he suffered. He did live a good life right?  So now, you decide which portion of his life you want to keep in your mind. The majorly happier one, or a few years of suffering? I didn’t have an answer. I left the matter there with a single acknowledging nod.
As I left her place yesterday, I kept pondering over what she said. It took me a while to sink in its depth. And when it did sink it, I felt different, – a sense of calmness engulfed all over me.
Is the glass half empty or half full,”? A very common theory of how people perceive. It kind of applied here too. I kept focusing on the years he didn’t live, I seldom looked at the numerous years he did. I despite having knowledge of the situation looked at it with a whole lot of pessimism.
Thanks Mrs. K for your warm thoughts. This blog is dedicated to Sunday’s sweet little chat we had over coffee. Glad we have people like you around inspiring others.

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