A team of doctors frantically work to save the life of the patient on the table. One of the doctors yells “Don’t let the bastard win!”
Later, an observer to the scene leaned in to a doctor and asked “What did he mean, ‘Don’t let the bastard win?’ Who was he talking about?”
The doctor calmly replied, “Death. The bastard is Death.”
This was a scene from MASH, one of my all time favorite shows. The doctor was none other than “Hawkeye” Pierce. The part of Death was played by, well, Death of course. A character that transcends a TV show, it is a very real thing.
And it is a Bastard.
I remember the first time I saw that episode, it resonated deeply with me. I caught it on re-runs the other night and it knocked me out of my chair. It spoke to me.
I have been a obstinate, stubborn, insanely driven lover of a good fight my entire life. The best way to get me to do something, my father always joked, was to tell me that I couldn’t do it. Through the years I became known for it, and as my health deteriorated, it became my calling card. When I met a challenge, I overcame it. I found that it inspired people, and that was a role that I could live with.
Now, I don’t have a lot of challenges or enemies. Not much is staring me in the face. With the possible exception of my mortality. It’s taunting me, telling me to lie down and accept its inevitability. To just go with it. After all, it says teasingly, it’s only a matter of time after all.
Fuck you, you bastard. I’m not listening.
I see people every day that have given up. They are just going through the motions, waiting for death. Not me, man. I’m scouring for donors, I’m exercising, I’m being positive because it’s only one of the two choices I have.
So many days I have felt tired and weak. So many days I have sat on the sofa unable to do anything. So many nights I have laid in my bed, sleepless and exhausted counting reasons to go on vs giving up. The term “quality of life” bounces around in your head during those moments. When you don’t feel well, life can not feel like it’s worth living. You can even begin to welcome the sweet release of death.
I’ve been close to death 3 times in my life. I’m not scared of it. I’m also not ready for it. I have a lot of people in my corner who want me around. So it’s up to me to get myself in a place in which I want to be around.
Today, I started week 3 of my workout routine. Treadmill, kettlebells, pushups and resistance bands. My strength is pathetic, my stamina is woeful and my body begs me to stop. I pushed through and now I feel like I have accomplished something. I did more than I was able to on week 1. That is forward progress.
If death is coming for me, he needs to know that it won’t be without a fight. I’m not letting the bastard win.