The Flicker of Life

I’ve seen that flicker in the eyes of my dad after he was diagnosed with cancer. Even though he had chosen to have his IV’s pulled, thinking his journey would end quickly, that flicker had other plans.  Instead of ending his journey in a day or two, the flicker kept him with us for two more weeks, it wasn’t ready to leave.


That Flicker

That flicker is the will to live. We may not all experience it but it’s something we should never take for granted.  Maybe it’s not the “will to live,” rather more like the “gift of life.”  When that flicker, which is meant to sustain us, starts to fade, we are given a gift.  The gift of looking through a curtain, made up of all our possessions, to the pure and innocent purpose for which we were intended.

As I sat with my dad those last few days, he shared with me how he’d like to apologize to everyone he had ever hurt or treated badly. That flicker pulled back the curtains and let him see clearly what was important.

I’ve spent the last few years helping a friend and her husband, who had been battling cancer of the spine and just recently was diagnosed with a secondary brain tumor. This retired Fire Fighter and Vet went from nearly 250 lbs. of muscle to a frail 150 lbs.  His flicker helped him live 2-1/2 years longer than the 6 months they originally gave him.  It drove him to sever his spine to stop the cancer growth and it kept that man going even when his body continued to fail.  That flicker kept a sparkle in his eyes allowing him to pull back his curtain and share comforting words of wisdom to my son, whose relationship with his girlfriend of four years had just ended.  He spoke with such care and love, putting his painful journey to the side so he could share what’s really important in life.

That flicker is in all of us, perhaps buried a little deeper in some, or muted by the have to, the should do, or the must do’s that come with the lives we choose. It’s behind the phones, computers and television screens.  That gift of life, that flicker, is there in the corner of your eyes when you look at the mirror longer than a second or in your taste buds after your favorite meal.  It’s carried along with the sound of a favorite melody or the aroma of a night jasmine.

Don’t wait for that flicker to pull the curtains away. Assist the flicker and choose to separate those curtains before the decision is made for you and the time to see clearly is limited.

Dedicated to my dear friend, Rick Shaw (3/17/50 – 4/30/16)

“I mean if my muscles ache, it’s because I’ve used ’em. It’s hard for me to walk up them steps now, its ‘cuz I walked up ’em every night to lay next to a woman who loved me. I got a few wrinkles here and there, but I’ve laid under thousands of skies with sunny days. I look and feel this way, well cuz I drank and I smoked. I lived and I loved, danced, sang, sweat and screwed my way through a pretty damn good life if you ask me.”   Edited quote from The Guardian

Grateful for you and knowing such a hero,



7 thoughts on “The Flicker of Life

  1. Beautiful tribute to Rick, you were a great friend to him & are to Darcy. You helped keep that flicker going

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