Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cancer's Lesson

The world has lost an incredibly talented, multi-faceted human being today. Tony Snow, author, radio host, T.V. host, musician, and press secretary for the Bush administration passed away last week due to complications from colon cancer.

What do we say? What a bright, shining light. What a positive person. What a talented man, who played the instruments of flute, guitar, and saxophone quite exceptionally. What a gem. What a diamond in the beltway rough. 

I have learned so much from Tony Snow. His struggles have been a constant reminder of how to properly live my life. I have to admit that I am quite stressed. I stress about a world gone mad, and the little things in my life. They eat away at me. The small things too often molest my peace of mind, and tear me from the inside out. If only my outlook were more analogous to his, I would like to think I'd be in a better mental place right now.

I watched Tony grow and accomplish things over the years. His voice was comforting on the AM dial. His command of Helen Thomas during press briefings at the White House was always humorous, and he always did such a great job on Fox News Sunday, or filling for Bill O'Reilly. I will most certainly, with a soreness uncanny, miss Tony's voice, his smirk, and his intelligence.

As a stressed out, angsty 20-year old, I have learned so much from Tony's suffering. When his diagnosis of colon cancer was announced, I brushed it off, figuring he had the best care available, and would be good to go in a short time. When he was thought to have beaten the disease, my soul leaped with felicity. What great news.

However, the scourge of cancer reared its ugly head and returned. It began to devour his colon, and eventually moved to his liver. I saw him appear on television. The graying of his hair, the hollowing of his eyes, and the paling of his skin all pointed in a very unwelcome and unwanted direction: death. I saw death in his face.

How could a man remain upbeat in the face of such insurmountable odds? Death is so frightening. The dark unknown is enough to put one's heart into palpitations. Can someone really be a beacon of bravery in defiance of death's inevitable calling? Death has it's tax collector, and he is always looking for more.

Snow's positive attitude, in defiance of death has shown me how to live. Instead of worrying about money, relationships, work, and whatever else that plagues me, I should live for the moment. I should live for the people that I love, and who love me. To stay focused on the small things that bite away at one in life is to be ungrateful for the very life you have been blessed with.

Make it count:
Life is a blur. As my father says, tomorrow, I am going to wake up and be forty. The day after that, he will be gone into the vast darkness of the universe and I will be an old man myself. It is so fast. The speed of light has NOTHING on the speed in which a man's life can transpire. Tony Snow's death has shown me that I need to make it count. I cannot waste my time being angry. I need to make it worthwhile. I cannot throw the gift of life away.

Tony's long bout with cancer has taught me so many lessons that I have decided to take seriously. I cannot worry about minute things. I will literally kill myself doing so; stress is a heart-killer. Money, relationships, and other things are important, but should not bring one down. Tony has shown me that I must live my life, stay positive, and make it count.

I leave you with some audio words of Tony's from when he discovered he had stage four cancer:

"Tony Snow Has Stage Four Cancer, Says He's Feeling Great!"

"When all is said and done in this life, it doesn't matter what you do, the question is, who did you touch? Who did you love? What difference did you make? I don't know what difference I've made, but I'll tell you, a lot of you have made a difference in my life. It has made it better, and wonderful, and richer, and happier. So when people ask me how I'm doin', I'm tellin' ya I'm doing great. My voice is a little raspy today, but I've been through cancer! I'm doing great!"

Please read his article here in Christianity Today.

"I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is—a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.
But despite this—because of it—God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life—and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts—an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live—fully, richly, exuberantly—no matter how their days may be numbered."

Rest in sweet, everlasting peace, Tony Snow. I will miss you.

-Conor Harrigan

1 comment:

Agent Conservateur said...

Great post Conor! Obviously you really respected and admired this man. It's a shame we lost him, but from your account and nearly everyone else's, he lived a rich and full life.