“Must the end of life be the worst part?
Can it be made the best?”
At 53, Eugene O’Kelly was in the full swing of life. Chairman and CEO of KPMG, one of the largest U.S. accounting firms, he enjoyed a successful career and drew happiness from his wife, children, family, and close friends. He was thinking ahead: the next business trip, the firm’s continued success, weekend plans with his wife, his daughter’s first day of eighth grade.
Then in May 2005, Gene was diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer and given three to six months to live. Just like that.
Now a growing darkness was absorbing the bright future he had seen for himself. He would have to change his plans, quickly, and capture what he could of his last diminishing days.
Chasing Daylight is the account of his final journey. Starting from the time of his diagnosis and concluded upon his death less than four months later, this book is his unforgettable story.
With startling intimacy, it chronicles the dissolution of Eugene O’Kelly’s life and his gradual awakening to a more profound understanding. Interweaving unsettling details of his battle with cancer with his moment-to-moment reflections on life and death, love and success, spirituality and the search for meaning, it provides a testament to the power of the human spirit and a compelling message about how to live a more vivid, balanced, and meaningful life.
Inspiring, passionate, deeply insightful, Chasing Daylight is a remarkable man’s poignant farewell to a beloved world.
What I Thought
I have been reading a beautifully written and thought-provoking book this week, called, ‘Chasing Daylight’ by Eugene O’Kelly. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did, for all sorts of reasons.
For a start, it is all about how he handled the fact that he had only months to live following the discovery of several brain tumours. I thought it might be hard going, considering I almost died from a heart attack myself years ago, and still feel I am on borrowed time sometimes.
I started to read, pleased to discover that he handled the news well, that he was determined to die with dignity… all very profound and somewhat comforting to me. He goes on to describe how he said a pleasant ‘goodbye’ to all his hundreds of friends, and I found myself looking back at my own life. At what I had achieved, and what I hadn’t, how many people’s lives had I touched.
Three quarters of the way through the book I began to feel sad – not for him, but for me.
You see, I know now for sure that my life has not been that exciting or profound. Too much heartbreak and disasters for a start.
I have been a loner for most of my life, which will probably be a good thing, as there won’t be masses of people saddened by my passing.
That’s if I decide to go (I am still undecided about that!)
As Dylan Thomas said, I will ‘rage against the dying of the light’ as I still feel there is something I haven’t done or achieved yet, and there is still time!
Still time to think about all the things I still want to do, or see, or achieve. ‘Never too late’ is fast becoming a mantra and I wonder what will happen next?
There is a lot to be said for dying suddenly. No time to worry about it or try to plan it, neither of which is very desirable. Mr O’Kelly learned to meditate and unwind using water, something I have been doing all my life. Rivers, waterfalls, the sea, all have a deep profound effect on me. The only thing that does.
So, ‘Chasing Daylight’ was sad but uplifting in a way. The fact that his illness was painless was a blessing and to be desired by all of us, and possibly what stops this book becoming a harrowing reading experience.