Every day I awoke to the same question: “would this be the last day of my life?”

The year was 1986, though it could have as easily been any year, as time no longer existed for me. Weeks earlier, medical examinations for feeling “a bit tired and feverish” pulled the rug out from under me and sent my whole world into question. Never did I expect the results.

I had cancer.

Coldly and callously the doctors recited the facts, figures and statistics; and just like that all my plans for a family and a long life were tossed into the wind. Thoughts of a lifetime of accomplishment were turned into a roster of “lasts”: was this the last baseball season I would ever experience? My last birthday? Our last anniversary? My last Christmas?

The holiday is cloudy in my head now. I can’t remember putting up a tree, or if I was able to buy anyone presents. All that I remember of that day is sitting dazed in a chair as my family – seemingly a thousand miles away from me – walked back and forth, trying to wear brave faces. They had a hard time looking me in the eye or knowing what to say; and I felt the same way. I didn’t know how to reach out to anyone for comfort. My despair was so great. It was like I was already dead.

It wasn’t until later that I was touched by an angel; and then, while I lay in my hospital bed, a voice told me that I would be fine. That was when my life forever changed. I would survive – even thrive – but on a different course. I learned how to fight for what needed fighting for. I learned how to release what I didn’t need. And I learned how precious is each and every breath of life that I am blessed to have.

I learned that it was normal to go through the arc of emotions I felt; and that the key is to not give up at any one point in the arc, for at the end is glorious bliss and contentment. I learned that the worst period of my life was also the best, as I was bathed in love and spirit the entire time. It’s always there – all you need to do is to reach out and grab it. Drink it in – make it yours.

As we approach another holiday season, I look back at that one: my last Christmas. That was the year that I died – and became reborn.

Merry Christmas to all!


About Joe

Freelance designer and writer whose goal is to help others by writing about my experiences with fear and anxiety (agoraphobia), health struggles (cancer) and my wonderfully-happy life as a husband and stay-at-home dad. I want to empower everyone to have a happy life.

5 responses »


  2. Colleen says:

    Beautifully expressed. I hope you have many more joyfilled Christmases to come.

  3. Jim says:

    Sharings like yours, Joe, make this Christmas season what, I believe, it is meant to be. Thanks for enriching my holiday season. I am so glad you are here!

  4. Maggie/Tumbleweed says:

    It’s amazing how we have to lose everything in order to find everything.

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