Wow. What a moving story. David Menasche's "Why I'm not afraid of dying."
When I saw the title mentioned in a tweet, I will confess that my first thought was, "Oh, please, don't let the reason be I know that God loves me and I'll be going to heaven.
Thankfully, it wasn't.
Menasche is a teacher with apparently incurable brain cancer. Here's some of what he says in his piece.
The cancer had finally succeeded in taking me out of the classroom, but I wasn't ready to let it take me out of the game. I wasn't afraid to die. I was afraid of living without a purpose.
To paraphrase Nietzsche, a person who has a why to live can always find a how. My "why" had always been my students. I just needed to find a new "how." Since I no longer had a classroom for them to come to me, I decided that I would go to them.
...What I learned from my travels was that my students had grown up to be kind and caring people.
People who picked me up when I fell over curbs, read to me from books I could no longer see, and cut my food when I could not grasp a knife. They shared with me their deepest secrets, introduced me to their families and friends, sang to me my favorite songs and recited my favorite poetry.
...And it was through them I realized that those very human moments, when we connected on a deep and personal level, were what made my life feel so rich, then and now. My students had taught me the greatest lesson of all. They taught me that what matters is not so much about what we learn in class, but what we feel in our hearts.
I am a pragmatic man. I know there is no reason I should still be alive. The cancer never lets me forget that it and not I will ultimately win this battle of wills. I know the disease will have its way with me, and sooner, rather than later.
My limbs are withering and my memory is fading. Yet as my world dims from the tumor growing in my head, I see ever more clearly the gifts the promise of an early death has brought.
I've ordered Menasche's book, to be released tomorrow.
Partly because "The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons" looks to be an inspiring read. And in part because I wanted my Amazon order to be an (inadequate) reaching-out and thank-you to a courageous guy who has a lot to teach us all.