In 2004, Tim McGraw had a country hit “Live Like You Were Dying”
I hated that song.
It’s one that can get stuck in your head and, in case you aren’t familiar, it’s about a guy that gets a terminal diagnosis. When asked how what you do with that sort of news he talks about living like you were dying.
To him this meant “speaking sweeter and loving deeper” which made sense. But also -“going Rocky mountain climbing, sky diving and 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu.”
This the part I found ridiculous. NO ONE – I thought – that’s dying does any of that. They are busy being sick. They are scared, they are angry, and they are likely a million other things I can’t begin to imagine. But they are not able physically or emotionally to pursue their passion. Or maybe even to have any. They don’t RIDE A DAMN BULL. Not even for 2.7 seconds.
Then I met Deb Meier.
I met her in person only once. At a dog clinic of course. We became facebook “friends” – something I also didn’t “believe in” but Deb did.
We started talking over a dog. Just around the time of her diagnosis. I didn’t know her all that well in some senses. We never talked politics or religion and I don’t think that would have gone well. She thought I was a bit too soft hearted about working dogs and she was right. I thought she was a lot more soft hearted than she wanted to let on.
I was having trouble with my dog and had a tendency to leave the post when things went wrong.
We both had a slight twisted sense of humor, an underappreciated ( in our opinion) habit of saying exactly what we meant. We shared a firm belief that stock dog event lunches should be hearty – with meat! She shared that she thought Minnesota handlers were a little “yuppy” and she was served cucumber and sprouts finger sandwiches at a clinic. I think she might have made that up.
Our conversations turned to life and her diagnosis… to fear and indecision and courage. About having those health tests I was afraid to have. She didn’t sugar coat that one. She said I was “stupid”. I had the test.
We talked about staying at the post. About living although you might be dying – not living LIKE you were dying.
While I whined about the heat or the drive to a trial, Deb was coming out of chemo and driving cross country. She got to run Tripp and she won. She entered trials and clinics months away expecting to be there. I wish I had half her courage.
I’m going to a trial this weekend. I won’t whine about the heat or the drive. I’ll be bringing meat for the potluck. And when I go to the post I’ll stand there a minute. For Deb. Then I’ll send my dog and try my hardest to stay at the post.
Deb’s passion wasn’t skydiving or rock climbing. But I can compare the bull riding to going to the post with her dogs. Again and again. No matter what. If anything I think her passion got stronger and the dogs kept her going.
Her ride was way too short but damn if she didn’t stay on that bull and stand at that post.
Nice ride Deb, good run. Now rest.