Meaning, in my head anyway, the future and what there is left of it. More specifically, I mean life expectancy. When you’re given a “13-month to two-year” prognosis—at age 54 and a half, by a cancer doctor, your cancer doctor—the timeline between where you are and where you thought you’d be when becomes as clear as mud. Yet not planning for the future, a future that previous to your diagnosis was thought to be guaranteed (based on family/patient history) creates a negative when all health care professionals advise being positive. Anecdotal evidence suggests that acting like you have a future helps result in some unexplainable way in you/the patient having one.
Over the last month, I’ve had some time-sensitive and planning-for-the-future-type decisions/expenditures that on paper at least—given my terminal diagnosis, could be construed as money poorly spent. Nevertheless, since it is my life—and I’m trying to live it, I went ahead and signed up and paid to have these future benefits in place (starting at the present), and I’m not talking funeral arrangements, either. What I’m referring to are everyday/ordinary expenses where your dollars guarantee years ahead rather than years behind: one-year anti-virus coverage for my computer—until September 14, 2014; two-year coverage until September 30, 2015, for my Life & Health Insurance from the Maryland State Insurance Administration (I used to be an active agent in my previous career); and finally, six-years renewal (although one has no choice, really) until September 30, 2019, for my new Maryland driver’s license.
Certainly, in my mind and experience, these renewals are sort of necessary, perhaps more so for the present than the future, but since I can’t know for sure, I felt as if hedging my bets was the prudent course of action. And though not renewing these three obligations was not really practical, given the realities of my life and its related responsibilities, the planning-for and purchase-of them did give me pause to consider my future and my expectations for it. Having terminal cancer will do that to you: stop you in your tracks and cause you to measure (almost literally) every step you take. It’s not exactly fun, but it is a living, and I’m particularly happy to be the one doing the living.
And during these past few weeks, I did stop, and I hemmed and hawed too and decided to pay it (and my life) forward; to invoke and rework a concept made famous by a movie of the same name starring Haley Joel Osment. So I’m now officially paid up—for a few years. If I think too much about what’s happened to me (stage IV non-small cell lung cancer) and why, I fear it will weaken my resolve. A resolve which is short on facts but really long on feelings. Feelings which I’ve become accustomed to having and believing.
I have to believe in something, and believing I have a future is the best way I know how to turn these feelings into facts.