A Letter to my Brother Jim.
Updated: Aug 9
I received your letter today, thank you. I loved the letter, and it reminds me we are but brothers from another mother. Because I think we believe a lot of the same things. I think I have spoken of this matter before, but I had a definite thought process about how to handle this diagnosis. And I had choices to make. But I have had enough heart break and good news in my life and almost always came out of it better off then before. Of course, with ALS it is hard to see that. But I squinted hard and came up with what I think are the good things about it. And I know I have told you about it, but I wish to go on longer about one thing. Time to say goodbye.
This started back in 2010 when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The first time I had to acknowledge I might die. As I thought about death, I thought how lucky I was to have the time to say goodbye. I knew the cancer would take a long time to kill me and I was grateful for the time I would have to meet with and to have closure with my friends. Of course, that did not take me out, we know that now.
But that is when I first had a real thought of death. I started to ask different people I knew how they wished to die. A. In their sleep or B. A long lingering death. Almost all chose A. And I would joke, that would make me afraid to go to sleep. But I would suggest B having time to say goodbye and most had no interest in it. I always found that curious. I think now it might have been fear of pain. Most of us do not embrace pain.
But then for some reason I think about my mom. She did not know she was terminal with Alzheimer’s. So, when she went in the hospital, we all thought it was just another issue of Bi-polar flaring up. And she would be back from the hospital good as new with a mental tune up. Instead, she died in four days. I was in California interviewing for a job. I said at the time there were no unexpressed thoughts between us and that was true. But I do regret she never got see the success I had after she passed. I know she would have been tickled by it. And proud of course. Much as I am proud of my son’s success. Or you of Jacksons successes.
At the heart of how I am handling this diagnosis is a simple thought. Time to say goodbye to all that I have encountered. And right behind that thought is money does not matter much to me anymore. I enjoy taking friends along with me to special events.
I think there is a simple way to make the point. I never think about the money I have spent after I spend it. I assume most people think the same way. Once it is gone, you must enjoy whatever you purchased with the money you had. I spent a lot of money of Jeanine, and I don’t miss any of it at all. I wish she had not turned out to be incompatible with me, but at the end of the day, chalk it up to a life experience.
So please, I know you enjoyed it and that is all I need out of the experience. I enjoyed the things we do together very much. As my days draw down, I enjoy most the interactions we still are having together, two brothers of different mothers. And we need to go fishing!