Life is a Gift: Inspiration from the Soon Departed
Husband and wife Bob and Judy Fisher spent considerable time interviewing and chatting with 104 terminally ill hospice patients. LIFE IS A GIFT accurately describes how these dying men, women and children viewed their final days on earth. While each individual had unique belief systems, and a few had none at all regarding an afterlife, every person had something significant and telling to say about life in general (and how to live our lives well in particular).
Interestingly, the Fishers, who were a bit wary about entering into a world where every person they would speak to would soon die, quickly realized that they weren't the ones who would be doing the encouraging. It was the terminally ill who ended up bringing faith, hope and love (and in abundance) to them. As they met with the patients at Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN, the Fishers recognized they had a wide spectrum of people to get to know and understand. While most of the individuals were elderly, some were young (the youngest being five-year-old Maddie, who suffered from neurofibromentosis), but all had a common message to share.
The authors conversed with each patient and asked such questions as: What are you most proud of? What has been your greatest joy? What has been your greatest disappointment? What's the most important thing you've ever done? What do you regret? What comes next for you? If you could give one message to the world, what would it be?
Medical science has been unable to cure their specific illnesses, and they realize each day is indeed a gift. The trivialities of life have been pushed aside, and what once seemed like huge issues are quickly discarded. Instead, they spoke in themes that emerged time and again. "Family. Faith. Forgiveness. Gratitude." These were the touchstones of heartfelt conversations and that summed up a meaningful life. The Fishers also noted that there was a sense of fearlessness amongst the patients as they ended their lives. Laughter, too, was another recurrent theme as was living in the now and not letting regret or fear of past mistakes ruin today's precious moments.
Readers will learn about such diverse subjects as seeing the blessings of earth; living in the moment; finding purpose in life; how important reconciliation becomes; loving people unconditionally; learning to laugh at life; getting along even during the tough times; and defeating regret through proactive discipline, a healthy perspective and by treasuring one's relationships. The Fishers also discuss how vital it is for all individuals to seek forgiveness and be forgiven. Living for others and God was similarly a heartfelt subject, as was the abiding hope for heaven.
Each story brings some thoughtful, reflective musing. Whether or not you are Christian, you will find real wisdom and instruction in this gently presented message from the soon-to-be departed. LIFE IS A GIFT is sure to be an encouragement to men and women alike, no matter where in life's journey a person finds himself or herself.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on May 20, 2008