“Never, Never, Never Quit!” ~ Winston Churchill

I remember sitting next to my mother’s deathbed. For months I had been fighting a losing battle; keeping her alive. My mistake was neglecting to ask her if she wanted to live.

I had made the same mistake several years earlier, when together we had fought off her first bout with cancer. I thought we had won, that she had gone into remission. Sitting down with her after the crisis had passed I asked her what did she want to do with her life.

You see, I knew and tried to share with her that cancer is a call for change. Change of everything. Absolutely everything needs to be re-examined. Where you live, what you do for work, for vocation, who you spend time with—EVERYTHING. When the possibility of the grim reaper taking you across the river Styx shrouds your world; that is a Titan’s call to action.

So I asked my mother what did she want to do with her life. She had children with resources, so she could afford to choose anew. Did she want a flower shop so she could spend her days with the plants she loved? Did she want to move to a warm climate? Did she want to volunteer in a newborn nursery caring for the infants she adored? Exampl after example were rejected.

It frustrated me that she refused to consider change. I wanted to shake her and warn her again of the consequence of ignoring the clear warning her body and Soul had given her. She had a second chance at life and she refused to budge. How could the fear of change be greater than the threat of dying? I just could not fathom someone so close to me “giving up.” I wanted to rant and rave. I wanted to slam doors and punch walls. What I did was go home, back to my life.

Within a few years the cancer was back only worse, much, much worse. I cannot begin to describe the pain I watched my mother endure. No amount of morphine could take it away. Even deep in a coma, rolling her over in bed elicited moans of pain.

Watching it, without recourse was one of the most painful things I have ever had to endure. My heart still weeps from it. Not from her death, because death was a gift, it ended the pain. I weep because of the waste, the torment and the fear that immobilized her.

“You can tell someone’s character by how hard it is to discourage them.” I really believe that. My mother did not. Her generation and her culture taught her to accept, to settle and not to rock the boat. She had her routines and by god she stuck to them and it cost her her life, and me, my mom. I understand it was her choice. I understand that I should have asked her if she wanted to live, because life is a gift. We get to decide if we want to return it, or abuse it or cherish it.

Cherishing life is the whole point of our journey in to self-love and self-improvement. So before some crisis knocks on the door, I too must ask the hard questions. Do I live where I am happiest and most at peace? Do I fill my days with productive work that brings me joy and contentment? Do I surround myself with people who are on their own conscious journey and having fun doing so? For now the answer is yes. Yet, I may not rest on my laurels, I must stay conscious and reexamine the questions as I grow and change. Life is a continuous adventure and until I decide “it is a good day to die,” I will never, never, never—quit.