I Need More Time!

[Originally posted on July 17, 2019, rewritten, and updated. I created a Website called “Path to Clarity” back in 2019, then gave up on the project.  I’m restarting the site and following the dream again as “Steven Ulrich (South Florida).”  Check out my “About” page to read my story.]

“I need more time,” is a statement made by my late brother Stuart (Stuey) in December 2018 and I asked him what would he do with it? Read his story first, and then I’ll share some commentary on why this statement is so important and how this is the fuel for starting this Website.

I came down to Florida in December 2018 after growing up in New York City and then living in Columbus, OH for 42 years. My goal was to help him through his second round of radiation therapy, this turned out to be a permanent Florida vacation. The “vacation” has lasted 5 ½ years.

Steve and Stuey (December, 2018)

I found out in September 2017 that my brother Stuey suffered a seizure while driving and was taken to the hospital after getting himself to the side of the road. He was not hurt, but was diagnosed with the same kind of brain cancer that took Senator John McCain’s life, Glioblastoma. This type of cancer is incurable and the average lifespan after diagnosis is about 18 months. Stuey went through the normal course of treatment (chemotherapy and radiation), and he received great news that the tumor had shrunk some.

Unable to drive and retiring early from his position as a pharmacist at Delray Medical Center (Delray Beach, FL), Stuey maintained a stress-free life being driven by his wife or others, taking UBER and the bus to appointments and hanging out at Starbucks or Barnes and Noble where he could use the internet.

Bad news came at the end of the Summer of 2018 that the tumor had grown back and was advancing. Moving into Autumn 2018, he developed blood issues with a condition called MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndrome), a group of blood disorders that disrupt the production of blood cells. His platelet counts were down dramatically, and they aborted any surgery plans because of the blood issues. His only recourse was to have a second round of Radiation to prolong his life. This condition also eliminated any immunotherapy alternatives unless his platelet count increased.

Knowing it would probably be his last birthday, Stuey turned 64 on December 9, I arranged to come down with my girlfriend to help him celebrate. Many of his friends threw a birthday party for him at the “Time to Eat Diner” Tequesta FL (outside Jupiter, FL), and we wanted to be there.  (The restaurant has been renamed to “The Jersey Diner.” (I put a link here so you can see the menu and the feel of a great NY/NJ diner). I wound up staying to help him through his radiation treatments and saw him through additional medical issues as well.

During this amazing time of reconnecting with each other, I managed to get a will made for he and his wife and help get my dad’s (alive at 92 with dementia) finances organized as well. I asked him, “Stuey why are you going through all of these treatments and transfusions? “I need more time,” he said. So I asked him “what do you want to do with that time?” He had no answer.

It’s funny, because I had a whole bunch of answers that I thought he would give: “Write something up for your profession, go on the trip with your wife you’ve always wanted to take, learn something new, contribute something to the community, start a blog, see friends you’ve wanted to see one more time or eat somewhere special.” Things like that. Nothing I said resonated, he still stated “I just need more time.”

Stuey died several months ago on March 21, 2019. The second round of radiation treatments were ineffective. His speech, movements, and memory were all affected by this tumor, and he suffered additional seizures on March 16th and was placed in hospice care.

I did get the answer to the question finally, several days before his stroke. He told me how he wanted to take one of his nieces to Harvard Square in Boston and then to New York City. He also wanted to take the cruise that is offered during Autumn along the New England Coast. It happens in the Fall, and you can travel up the Atlantic from Boston to see the incredible Fall colors. That is what he wanted to do. Nothing said about doing anything in-between to enjoy the richness, awe, and magic of life. He did not get to live out that last set of wishes.

I appreciate you reading this far, I wanted to share his story with you. I miss my brother every day and feel blessed that I was able to spend a lot of quality time with him near his end of life.  We were not that close for many years and I believe it was for our own healing that we were able to spend his remaining time together.  I was in the hospital room when he passed.

The reason I write this is because I’m deeply committed to you, our community and what you want for your life. I’ve talked to many people, and I’ve seen the despair, hopelessness, and resignation inside them that they may die without getting what they have wanted for themselves or others in this lifetime.

There are people, maybe even you, and often myself, who wake up in the morning and when asked how they are, they respond “I’m here.” I believe life is so much more than that, and living life without the excitement for being here and joy for what is possible, is living less life.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” there is a dialogue between Frodo (the hobbit) and Gandalf (the wizard):

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

I invite you to contemplate these words. You have one life! That’s it, no do-over’s, no regrets, no drama, no going back. There is still time left!  It doesn’t really matter how old or young you are, nor how much life or how little. You get to decide what you are going to do with the rest of your life – it’s up to you. So, what do you want to do with the time you have left?

[On this website you will find resources, tools, strategies, insights, video links, key influencers, books, programs and stories that will move and inspire you.  This site is designed to help you decide and then to take action on your answer to what you want to do with the time you have left.]

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