Thinking About Life

Times are tough right now, but we have so much to be thankful for.

I got an email two weeks ago that stopped me in my tracks. At first, I thought it was a scam. The subject line of the email was “Urgent Request.” But as I read the note, I realized my knee-jerk reaction could not possibly have been more wrong.

Good afternoon,
I’m following up on an email I should have sent months ago to try to find a person to assist with account management for middle income asset owners with a series of accounts that are diversified and undergoing substantial change. Ten months ago I was diagnosed with Stage 4 bladder cancer that has changed my life and that of my wife. Fortunately, we had a good summer but my diagnosis is now terminal and I will mostly likely be dead by Christmas.

I know this is a long shot but having listened to the podcasts and really liking your approach, I am hoping you might support my wife in figuring out how to roll over my investments into something that makes sense for her.

I called my partner Kris and told him what I had just read. “We have to help these people,” I said. So I brought in one of our advisors, and the three of them got on the phone the next day.

The advisor, Kevin, called me the following afternoon. “I just hung up with them. That was tough.” The client, I’ll call him Brian, was right. He didn’t make it to Christmas.

Brian and his wife Kelly (not her real name) were in their 30s. I felt a little less sick learning that they didn’t have children. My wife lost her father when she was a little girl, and needless to say, that wasn’t easy for her, her sister, or her mother.

If there is a silver lining here, and I’m reaching, it’s that Brian and Kelly, as Kevin told me, were incredibly clear-headed about the whole situation. Brian passed knowing that Kelly’s finances were going to be looked after. But I don’t want to talk about finances. I want to talk about life.

If you knew that you only had ten years to live, what would you do differently with your life? This isn’t a fun question. It’s uncomfortable to think about the end. I spent about five seconds pondering this before I moved on. No thanks. Even if I only had another ten years, no chance I would want to know about it.

But we are going to die—all of us. What you choose to do with that knowledge is up to you.

I try not to take anything for granted. I try to be a good person. I try to be a good husband. A good father. But then life goes on, and we forget how precious it is. And, unfortunately, nothing reminds us about life quite like someone’s death.

The days are long, but the years are short. I’m trying not to waste them.

Rest in peace, Brian.