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Dave Brisbin

Every Moment, Every Person

A dear friend and colleague suddenly diagnosed with stage four cancer brings everything to a halt. Not just in her life, but in ours as well—at least for a time. And when we start breathing again, I know what I’m thinking, but wondering what she’s thinking in the dark hours. Her voice sounds strong; she’s talking about fighting and treatment plans, but also logistics and last wishes for her children and all of us.

She’s striking a strange balance between hope for life and admission of the possibility of death, the preparation for it. But isn’t that just a statement of the human condition? Don’t we all live out our lives, plan and dream, laugh and embrace, under the shadow of a death sentence? As long as there’s no date attached, no end in sight, we can pretend, but at times like these it all comes hissing in like a leak in a submarine.

Her family is now experiencing an intensity they haven’t in some time. We all do this.

Why do we wait until the possibility of losing someone becomes imminent before we feel and express their value to us? With our own lives, with the moments that make up our time here—why do we allow the urgencies of life to masquerade as important and distract us from the only moment that exists? This one that we’re in right now. What is urgent is not necessarily important and what is important rarely feels urgent. Relationship and connection, like life, appear open-ended—and without deadline or urgency, they feel reschedulable.

Until times like these.

None of us wants to think about death approaching out of the dark at unknown speed and distance. But the value of life can only be experienced in the acceptance of death. In accepting that there are no answers to the deepest questions of life, to stop searching for meaning in the darkness of what we can’t know, we can see again what we’ve always known in the light of each living moment.

To stop trying to import meaning into our moments with thoughts made of words and see that each moment is already just enough for us is the gift we can receive at times like these.


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