This time last year I had no idea that the next morning my brother, Jon would die. But my actions over the last year have been profoundly affected by his sudden death from a heart attack at 56. Reading in his autopsy report that he had, unknown to all of us, emphysema (along with severe heart disease and coronary artery disease) somehow helped me to begin to feel the same relief for him that I had for my Dad's passing just a few months before. To be sure, my Dad had years of physical and mental limitations that thwarted joy and peace. He also had almost thirty two years more life on this Earth. But Jon's normal life would have been rescripted as diagnosis bumped up against daily life. Now I don't assume longevity to be a "be all and not end all" of goals. What I do see is that many of the things that hold me back are "luxuries" I can no longer afford. My brother was not able to make changes. He was not going to stop smoking, change his diet or see himself as capable as he was.
I admit it's weird, but I have this vision of getting to the pearly gates where I am seated in a reclining chair and made really comfy. There is a super TV and a DVD is inserted which starts right into the main piece without the usual long drawn out boring promotions. Quickly I realize that the theme is what my life could have been had I only pushed a little harder against my fears and insecurities.
That image has helped me to ride out the period of discomfort that always (for me) happens when I redefine myself. Discomfort is not pleaseant but it is a small price to pay for growth.