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Toan Lam

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Facing Death and Rediscovering Life

Posted: 07/03/11 07:56 PM ET

What do you do when you've been diagnosed with a life threatening condition? Live life, of course! That's exactly what Alice Pyne, a British teenager who blogged about her dying wishes, did -- though she never expected worldwide support in achieving her dreams.

"It doesn't look like I'm going to win this one," she writes on her Alice's Bucket List blog. "The cancer is spreading through my body. It's hard because I gave it my all. And it's a pain because there's so much stuff I still want to do. Anyway, Mum always tells me that life is what we make of it."

Alice's bucket list blog is the list of things she'd like to do before she dies, and she marks them DONE when a wish list item is complete -- like swimming with sharks, meeting British pop stars Take That, and a movie night with friends.

Pyne admits she only expected the blog to be read by a few friends; however, it made its way around the world inspiring supporters from Canada, Australia and America to help her accomplish her dreams. Generous readers have offered Alice everything from photo-shoots to trips, and she continues to share her experiences through her blog.

I have never been given the grim news of a prescribed time of death -- and I can't even begin to understand how Alice must feel. But at one point in my life I lost 4 very close family members in 8 short months. During the healing process, I learned to live life more fully through the experience of death.

It's been 10 years since my father, auntie and both grandmothers passed away and finally I have the clarity and composure to write about the lessons it brought me.

Both my father and aunt left their Earth suits months apart after courageously battling the big C. At the time, I couldn't fathom how I would get past that experience. Then things got worse. Both of my grandmothers passed away a few months later -- 4 deaths in 8 months. Whew... deep, melancholic physical, mental and spiritual pain ensued.

The loss hurt so much that I didn't talk much for three months. When I crossed the street, I didn't look left or right. I didn't care if a Mack truck struck me. I felt like a large part of me was gone forever.

My sister, Lynn, described it best when she said, "I feel like I lost my purse and in it, I had everything that mattered to me." Ok, well, I don't have a man-purse, but I can say I could feel her on this one!

But in my deepest darkest time, I eventually began to thaw and saw light and felt warmth that eventually started to fill that hollow, dark space, void of life. I guess this is what death feels like to the living. On the contrary, I guess this is the visceral feeling of how it feels to live consciously. Three months after the last death, I started to regain feeling again.

I can clearly and consciously say that this life lesson about death made me love and revere life and the myriad of experiences even more -- yes, I'm saying that the deaths of my loved ones made me love living even more.

Many friends have wondered, "How can you say that? That's very optimistic."

The truth is, my spirituality started to emerge. Like little spires of life that emerge after a forest fire like little signs of life blossoming from the charred debris and soil in the aftermath of the raging flames. The deaths were a firestorm of emotions that ensued, but the lesson they brought was light and love. I suddenly saw God through people, plants, children, etc. I felt love through their actions.

One friend said, "I know you feel like you're in a vortex of darkness and you are freefalling, but know that I'm here for you, so call me anytime, even in the middle of the night, if you need someone to talk about how you're feeling." Another friend offered to pay my bills until I could get back up on my feet. I could not accept this generous offer, but I accepted the intention and love behind such a statement.

This powerful lesson also shined light on my own inner power, like the little seedling, that wanted to emerge, but was too afraid of the light.

Perhaps Marianne Williamson's quote explains how I felt best:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

What I've learned from these tragic experiences made me realize that our time on this planet is limited. I gained this sense of urgency -- what is it that I'm doing to make my mark and create a legacy that will outlive me; what message do I hope to give the world? That question led me on this quest or passion work called GoInspireGo -- my goal: to help viewers "Discover and Use Your Power to Help Others."

Alice has inspired me to start a 'living life list' right now...

In the wise words of Alice Pyne,

I've created a bucket list because there are so many things I still want to do in my life ... some are possible, some will remain a dream. My blog is to document this precious time with my family and friends, doing the things I want to do. You only have one life ... live it!
What can you do to live a fuller life and how are you using it to help others? Are you living life or is life living you?
 

Follow Toan Lam on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GoInspireGo