Man in the Mirror

Blogs-contributors, Dan Waeger — By on July 8, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Don’t worry- this isn’t the Michael Jackson tribute post! But since they’ve been playing his music everywhere, I’ve been hearing this song over and over. (For the record- my favorite MJ song is “PYT” and favorite J5 song is “Blame it on the Boogie”). I feel like Dan would’ve written a blog about “Man in the Mirror” (maybe he even did, and I am losing it).

I just got home from a meeting at the Ulman Fund. I was asked to be on an advisory board to help evaluate programs and events from the young adult perspective. For those that don’t know, the Ulman Fund is a great organization that serves the young adult cancer community. Lucky for me, they are also right in my back yard! It was started by Doug Ulman (now the President of the Lance Armstrong Foundation) and his family after he was diagnosed as a student at Brown back in 1997. I am always amazed at the power of a single person (or families) drive & determination. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be a celebrity to bring about real change in the world.

But I digress. As I drove home, “Man in the Mirror” came on the radio. I want completely cheese out and write about the lyrics. But why is that the perfect song always comes on! Here I was, leaving a meeting where people are taking their personal experiences and using them to bring about change.

You all know I have no idea what direction my life will take. I have been thinking about something a lot, though. And it has to do with death, so don’t be alarmed. I’ve been thinking about how much of an honor it was to be with Dan the last few days of his life… to care for him, and to be by his side at the end. Most people have their whole lives to get the toughness and the empathy to deal with that type of situation. Not to pump myself up- trust me, I doubted whether I could do it, and there were times when I wanted out. But even in the moments of doubt, I knew there was nothing I wouldn’t have done for Dan and the trust he placed in me, I’ve been wondering how anything else can measure up against that experience… did I already do the most important thing in my life- help someone else at the end of his? What else can possibly compare to this?

Then MJ comes on singing about being the change you want to see in the world. And I think maybe there are more people to be helped, more important life moments. And not in the end-of-life, dramatic sort of way. But in using this new-found insight to connect with people who are going through any sort of tragedy. At our cores, none of us wants to be alone. And cancer is a lonely world at times. Grieving is intensely lonely. So maybe it’s not about how much money I raise, or finding a job in the cancer world for me. Maybe it will just be using my story to step up for others and make sure that if nothing else, they don’t feel alone.

I hope that I am onto something. I’d hate to waste a good MJ singalong.

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