September 11th is a day to remember those who died 14 years ago, and those who acted with courage to prevent more from dying. If you are an adult, you probably remember where you were when the towers fell, just as a previous generation remembers where they were when Kennedy was assassinated, or when the hostages were freed from Iran, or any of a number of other momentous events.
For me, September 11th is a day when I remember I am mortal. A little more than two years ago, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and underwent a rather exhaustive (for the surgeon, at least) procedure to remove the tumor. Each year since, I report to my oncologist for scans and lab work, to see if the cancer has returned.
By sheer coincidence, for the last two years, my ultrasound and labs have been scheduled on 9/11, and so I spend the day contemplating the fact that my body is quite mortal. It was sobering to listen to the ultrasound tech check off each of my organs and to watch her take pictures and estimate the size of each one. It makes one imagine the strangest of conversations:
Ultrasound Tech: “Well, sir, I’m finished.”
Me: “Did you see anything strange?”
Tech: “You know I’m not really allowed to interpret the images, sir. Your doctor will talk about it with you … ”
Me: “Come on, you can give me a hint. Everything OK down there?”
Tech: “Um, no. I wasn’t able to find your liver.”
Me: “No liver?”
Tech: “No sir. Seems to be gone. Have you been drinking a lot?”
Me: “Not unless you count Diet Coke. What should I do?”
Tech: “My advice? Make your will, tie up any loose ends.”
Fortunately, apart from commenting that one of my kidneys looks more like a football than the other, that conversation was all in my head.
Each day that you and I live is a gift. I think I am a little more keenly aware of that because of the kidney cancer. But in truth, all of us live under the sentence of impending death, 24/7, just as the people in the Twin Towers and on the various planes were under a sentence of sudden and unexpected death.
It makes me want to use my time wisely. So, Kathy and I took David and Sarah out for a combined Special Day™ to see the War Room movie, which she and I so enjoyed last Sunday.
Of course, we found an excuse to stop off for McDonalds’ soft-serve ice cream on the way home.
Project 365, Day 254