Long-time readers know that when I faced death, I figured I might as well enjoy myself. I cited Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins in the 1960s, who did the same, and wrote the book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient. “Laugh” became the first word in the title of my cancer journal book.
Paul Levy just posted a video that makes me want to shout from the rooftops: “Yes! Yes!” The video is “Last Laugh” and the post is titled “Why would I stop laughing?” It’s not about surviving through laughter (as Cousins did), it’s about laughing even while you’re not surviving. It’s interviews with several people who are in their last months and would, like Cousins, just as soon enjoy themselves.
I’m not saying everyone should “be that way” or any particular way. When I learned five years ago that I might be at the end, my sister Suede, who’d worked with many dying people in the AIDS epidemic, said, “There’s no right way: everyone does it differently.” Rather, as Twitter friend @JackieFox12 just said, “I recently lost a dear 40 year old friend to breast cancer. She refused to let it rob her of her zest for life.”
I like Oscar Wilde’s supposed words in his final illness: “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do.”:-)
Paul’s post also notes that in her final times, our friend Monique Doyle Spencer felt the need, as does one person in this video, to “edit” her friends, removing those who could only talk about the problems they were having dealing with Monique’s trials.
Please watch this video, and perhaps bookmark it for a time when its need arises in your life. For one thing, it’s really interesting to see a bunch of dying-soon people who aren’t all tubed up in an ICU – and for whom, like Jackie’s friend, a zest for life still has them enjoy living and laughing.