One thing that makes my skin crawl is when I am told that the primary objective of the treatment for glioblastoma multiforme is to "prolong life as much as possible." Not "to eradicate the cancer once and for all." The message is that I have an incurable illness that WILL kill me, but the treatments will hopefully let me hang on a little longer. It seems almost (not quite - but almost) undignified, this struggle to try and postpone something that is regarded as inevitable.
But here's the deal: I was born with a terminal condition. We are all born with a terminal condition. It's called LIFE. Everyone who lives, dies. We all try to prolong life as much as possible, and that's not undignified. Life is precious. Life is valuable. Life is worth trying to protect. Life is worth our best efforts to savor and enjoy and respect. Someday it will be over, and something new will begin in our after-life experience.
I'll put on my Frank Capra hat, because I believe that we are born at a time that is essential to what happens in our lives. If I had been born even one year earlier or later, I probably wouldn't have had the same opportunities to meet and fall in love with my husband. There are a lot of things that would have been different. And as much as we wanted a child for years before we got one, I believe that the timing of our son's birth was an essential part of who he is, who he will interact with, and what he will do in his life.
And now I'll put on my Solomon hat (people think he wrote Ecclesiastes)or pretend I'm one of the Byrds, because just as there is a time to be born, there is a time to die ("turn, turn, turn..."). I believe that there may be an order and timing of this as well, which perhaps is just as essential to our ultimate destiny. I believe that I will be given the time I need to do whatever work is essential for me to do here, before I go. And I'll put on my Orson Wells hat (although I didn't gain THAT much weight on steroids!!!) and say that just as Paul Masson will "sell no wine before it's time," I am sure that God will "take no 'whin'-ing sick person before their time."
When I mentioned to the Messiah choir director that there is a risk of this being my last year to perform, he commented that this is true for any of us. He's right. Because we all have a terminal condition called life. Some of us get more quantity of life than others, and some of us get less. We can try and prolong it as much as possible, but it is often ultimately out of our hands. What we can control is the quality of our lives, each day that we live.