I am not going to lie. My first reaction to Stuart Scott’s passing was “he didn’t deserve to die.” I didn’t venture far enough to blame God, but I was initially baffled. But he fought so hard with such fortitude and faith. If anyone deserved to beat cancer, didn’t he?
I thought about his ESPN ESPY Award acceptance speech and the two beautiful daughters that he leaves behind. It would have made the ultimate fairytale story where the father beats cancer three times to live to hear his grandchildren say “Boo-yah” (one of his infamous commentating expressions). For me, it called human mortality into question: What’s the rhyme and reason to all of this anyway? How and who decides who lives and who dies? In the first minute after hearing of the passing of someone that appears so full of faith, so full of life, so full of legacy, promise, and love, all of these thoughts went through my mind.
Then, in the next minute, I started reflecting on the graceful way that Stuart lived after his cancer diagnosis. I thought about how he kept exercising, working, loving, and traveling at a time I probably would have been on my knees begging for life, mercy, and healing from God. Or, I would have been in total denial about death and probably became some radical zealot that spent my entire waking time believing that God had already healed me. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have handled it like that, but I am sure I would not have been as strong as Stuart. I want to believe I am that strong, but I really don’t know how I would handle being faced with death in that manner.
Then, it suddenly all made sense. I started to feel a sense of victory and blessing. It was exactly what Stuart said, “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live. So live. Live. Fight like hell.”
Yes, Stuart! You freaking lived man. You WON. Period. End of story. Guys, he won! Despite the trials of life (in his case, cancer), his outlook remained one in which he used every last moment to live, love, laugh, learn, and leave a legacy! What an honor. How many people can say that they made a positive difference in this world? How many people can say that their legacy is meaningful? I don’t know about you, but that’s something I think about often. What will my legacy be when I die? Will I have touched people’s lives in a meaningful way? Will I have accomplished what I was created to do? I am not God, so I cannot judge how Stuart lived or if he fulfilled his purpose, but goodness gracious he sure set the bar high!
In my mind, he died too young (age 49). I still have that underlying belief that people are supposed to live to see old age. However, within that, I ask, what is life if we live to be old and still accomplish nothing or very little? I am not sure but I still desire to live to be very old.
Death never seemed fair to me, yet the more I live and grow the more I see that death is actually one of the only fair parts of life. Everyone dies, the rich, poor, kind, mean, healthy, and diseased. We all have a moment waiting when we will pass on. Yes, “pass on” because “death” seems too harsh, too finite.
Since we probably live a life after earth (my hope), then death is just passing to another world where our loved ones are waiting to say “what the heck took you so long? It’s freaking awesome over here.”
I am not happy that Stuart’s journey on earth has ended, but I am happy that he lived such an amazing life. As of this point in my life, I cannot say that I understand the concept of life and death. If lacking the full comprehension of such a simple matter is not confusing enough, losing three students within the last year to tragic accidents (as recent as four days ago) has left me even more stunned about death. I am quite certain that if I were to ask each of those students how long they thought they might live, they would have said past the age of 18 or 30 years old.
After these losses, I have a new question: What is more important, the quality of life or the quantity of life? I do not know, however, I believe that the two ideas are not completely separable.
In it all, there is one thing I know for sure. How we live seems to be central to the concept of a fulfilled life. If we can make each moment matter and find meaning in each moment, even the good and the bad, maybe we too can win.
Still alive? Then there is still time to live the life you were created to live. Haven’t been living? Then there’s no better time than the present, right? In the words of Stuart Scott, “have a great rest of your night and have a great rest of your life.” In my words, Stuart Scott, I think you might have just beaten the game of life without a game guide or a cheat code.