Intended to be a fall wedding in New England. A rustic barn at the historical society of a quaint Boston suburb with puritanical charm. The fall foliage bursting with color would have framed hundreds of wedding photos. The choice of season was not meant to be, but the beauty of this love was celebrated instead on a perfect Spring day five months earlier than planned.
The Groom, our intrepid blogger, whose words entertained, and insights struck tragic chords. His life celebrated by hundreds in a memorial service last August, his passing one year ago from the date of this post and only 78 days after the wedding. The Bride, a beautiful and amazingly selfless woman, who devoted her most valuable possession, her love, to a terminally ill man. She beautifully completed his tragically short life and now must find a way to translate this love to a positive impact on her future.
His life humbles us, shining light on the fragility of our existence and the meaning of our time here. With a forced hand, he stepped up when others would have wilted. He taught us that we could simultaneously laugh at our discomforts while staring down our fate. His bravery should be a lesson, and the way he touched the lives of others passed on in some way.
He held both a curse and a gift. His condition enabled the transcendent thoughts of how to love, live, and be the best person you can be. His ability to relate, understand, and communicate his insight with such simple clarity and irreverent humor became his gift to us all – afflicted or not.
Within the frame of 24 years, he had the opportunity to experience something many of us never find – an authentic and deeply loving relationship. He defined love as a “feeling of invincibility when you take on everyday life with your partner.” Nobody should be deprived of this feeling in their life, but many don’t appreciate this blessing.
He taught us that YOLO is only a bumper sticker unless you know “what is important and what is not.” And, once you know what you want, “doing it now should never overrule doing it right.” He believed it was worth fighting for that time, even when it seemed hopeless. The brackets of our lives remain open with time and ability to generate hope limitlessly.
We still have an opportunity to maximize our time. We live free of the burden to constantly “balance denial” of a defined mortality “with preparing emotionally for the end.” Why do you need to be terminally ill to realize that “worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere”?
We can align our perspective – appreciate each moment as an opportunity. What if we saw each new thing “to be more special as you experience them?” We don’t need our fate predefined to cherish every moment. This mindset would “turn concerts into cathartic experiences, holidays into milestones, and changes the time you spend and the relationships you build into a legacy. “
His memorial service was a blur. We could not see through the tears in our eyes but felt the warmth from a sanctuary overflowing. We owe him the effort to take his message and fill our time with the lessons from his life. We don’t need “a timer on our life for forgiveness to come easier, pride to become less important, and things like humility and righteousness to become more important.”
Unencumbered by the burden of our mortality, we have time to YOLO, but to do it right, to love and be invincible with our partner, and to build our legacy with righteousness, grace, and humility. Take his legacy as we live to form our own.
Author’s Note: This post is submitted on behalf of Jeffrey Mitchell Lortz by his family as the epilogue to SeriouslyCancer.com.
Before his passing, Mitch expressed hope that his blog would continue to help others without his stewardship. We continue to seek ways to publish and distribute his work to others impacted by Cancer. Suggestions are welcome in the comments of this post.
A foundation has been created in his memory with the purpose of empowering educational, medical and charitable efforts in loving memory of Jeffrey Mitchell Lortz and his inspirational battle with cancer.