originally posted on Wednesday, April 6, 2011
A funeral attended recently was entitled “Closing Ceremonies” on the cover of the program which depicted a beautiful painting of the back of a man striding toward a bright light while trees with fall colored leaves were on his left and a beagle was off to his right.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if the man was elderly, having lived a long, full life?
No, the man was 52 and the painting was done by one of his daughters who is still in highschool.
Long before this man became ill, I’d known him by his reputation of “just a great guy.”
He was also a highly regarded physician and administrator, a happily married man who fell in love with his wife when they were classmates in college, many years before, and the father of their 4 children.
At the age of 51, a sudden diagnosis of a terminal disease might allow for strong feelings of anger and “why me.”
But in the remembrance his wife gave at his “Closing Ceremony,” she remarked that he didn’t become angry at this “biological event” because there “just wasn’t going to be time for that.” Instead, he worked toward preparing them to move forward without him.
He chose his reaction to a circumstance he could not alter in any way.
He chose his reaction to his unfair fate
He chose to prepare his family.
Choosing one’s reaction to events as serious as job loss, or health issues, or as mild as overcooked asparagus, muddy dog paw prints on the floor, or the fact that it still snows in NH while it is technically Spring, are exactly that—choices.
The perspective this man appears to have chosen was to leave a legacy of preparedness. He will be remembered for his career success, particularly by his former patients and colleagues, many of whom were in attendance at this ceremony.
But the stories we heard, told by his family members, were about his efforts to leave them as intact as possible, able to grow and love and feel joy, despite his early departure.
Sitting there, I felt a sense of awe for this man who, even in his absence, was coaching all of us about our ability to choose.
Coaches assist clients’ recognition of multiple choices they can make about a topic they are dealing with in their lives.
Coaches support the clients’ choice of the most resourceful approach to take by requesting commitment to an action plan and follow up accountability.
We have choices to make every day that we live.
How we choose determines our journey.