How would you live your life if you found out you only had three weeks to live?
“Georgia Byrd spent her life dreaming of possibilities. Until the day fate changed everything” teases the official trailer of 2006 movie, The Last Holiday. When a CT scan discloses that she has three weeks to live, she quotes in the movie, “You wait and you wait for somethin' big to happen... and then you find out you gon' die.”
Georgia Byrd decides to follow advice given to her by a co-worker “remember when you said life is too short to live the way I do”, and she makes some radical sudden changes.
Ms. Byrd suddenly quits her job at a department store in an out of character way. Although her character’s bank manager believes that she is a disciplined woman as she cashes out her savings, she informs him “I’m just gonna blow it”.
If the movie was set in 2022, Ms. Byrd’s character might have read Dr Blair Bigham’s 2022 book “Death Interrupted, How Modern Medicine is Complicating the Way We Die”. The author suggests that post-reading of his book, people follow 4 steps. Step 1 is to “Think about death” (page 283), Step 2 is to “Talk about death” (page 284), Step 3 is to “Write about death” (page 284), and Step 4 is to “Live your life” (page 284).
In the movie, Ms. Byrd sells her possessions and then heads to the posh Grandhotel Pupp in the Czech Republic to live it up. She checks into the Presidential Suite, orders everything on the menu, snowboards, and believes she has nothing to lose. She finally lives her life and makes the possibilities that she once only dreamed of a reality.
Georgia Byrd at one point reflects on her life prior to the (spoiler alert) false diagnosis by saying, “You know how it is. You keep your head down and you hustle and hustle. Then you look up one day and wonder, “How did I even get here?” After the (false) diagnosis she certainly began to live her life in those final three weeks she thought she had left.
Towards the end of the movie and upon learning of the false diagnosis, she is overjoyed and quotes,” I'm gonna live! Everybody, I'm gonna live!” As the end credits reveal, she and her new husband are determined to live every day to the fullest.
So, if you found out you only had 3 weeks to live like Georgia Byrd, how would you live your life for those final weeks? Bronnie Ware in her recent book, "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" suggests the fifth most common regret was “I wish that I had let myself be happier. This is a surprisingly common regret. Many of her private clients did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
Despite the Last Holiday film being categorized as a comedy and a romance, I urge you to watch it (in full or video clips available on YouTube) and ponder the underlying message about living your life to the fullest every day, and perhaps encouraging some silliness and laughter as part of your daily life.
As always, I wish you a life well-lived and a death well-planned.