Jewish World Review April 11, 2004 / 21 Nissan, 5764
Dying . . . to live
What would you do if you were told you had six months to live?
Think about that. Think hard. Because a good friend of mine is wrestling with that. He's a top money manager at a top brokerage house. And he has advanced testicular cancer. He's dying. And he doesn't have much time.
Even his doctor said six months might be pushing it. When he first found out a couple of weeks ago, he was in shock. He sought me out; not only because I'm a good friend, but also because I'm a cancer survivor and have been dealing with multiple sclerosis for about a decade now. I'm a Petri dish for this stuff, I guess. But I'm not the issue here. He is. Because what he did and said next amazed me.
He didn't quit his job. He didn't take a big trip to some exotic locale. He didn't change his routine one bit. When I asked him why, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Because I like my job, and I like what I do."
He's fortunate enough to work with his wife. They have no children, and given his condition, he says, "I won't be making any either!"
He's as funny as he was when he was well. As giving. As caring. As considerate. As un-Wall Street as you could get. So what keeps him glued to a Wall Street job? Maybe the fact that it's not just a Wall Street job. From what little I can understand of it, he invests money for various charities, and apparently he's pretty good at it. He loves it and he loves the people his investing benefits.
He's got the Midas touch, having tripled one organization's dough enough, he says, to dramatically increase scholarships to more kids than ever before. So he keeps at it. Always chugging. Never slowing. Forever smiling.
Just this day I was on the phone with him, stupidly asking his reaction to Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission (as if any of this seeming nonsense in the political world could remotely impact "his" world). He rightly put it in perspective. "They can't bring back 3,000 dead people," he told me. "It just seems like a waste of time."
For him, it's not even about politics. He's never been a Bush supporter. In fact, he's so liberal, when I joke, "You'd better hope God's as left wing as you are," he responds, "He is. You're the one in trouble, Cavuto!"
And on and on. Carrying on. Joking on. Fighting on.
He tells me he's more tired now, though I can't see it.
By all appearances he seems remarkably together now, even fit now. But I know, bit by bit, he is dying now.
There's a certain kinship I feel for those with illnesses. It's as if we share some inner secrets that aren't so secret at all. We appreciate more, and in my friend's case, we commiserate more.
I still can't fathom he will not be here on this planet much more.
He still checks into his desk, still makes those trades from his desk, and at the end of the day, still neatly stacks his papers and leaves his desk.
Some day, I don't know when, he will not be returning to that desk.
But he seems remarkably content.
He watches what we watch on TV, but he doesn't obsess over any of the stuff we watch on TV. He told me something once about life being like a play, staged before his very eyes. He likes the play but isn't consumed by the play.
After all, he's part of the play. Still on the stage. Until he is taken off the stage, and "another player takes my place."
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Neil Cavuto is managing editor of Business News at FOX News
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06/23/03: The big pitch for the "big get," no big deal!
© 2003, Neil Cavuto