Some of you know my friend Dr. Lee Lipsenthal. I†wrote about him here and†he wrote an article for Owning Pink here. A physician, author, and workshop leader who spent most of his career working with Dr. Dean Ornish and teaching physicians how to find balance in a medical life, Lee has inspired hundreds of thousands of people with his work.
And then we lost him way too young to esophageal cancer in September.
I was blessed to honor his life at the memorial service held for him at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, where Dean Ornish and dozens of others celebrated Leeís remarkable life. (Lee insisted that we drink margaritas, listen to classic rock music, and enjoy every sandwich – BLTís to be specific.) As more than 300 of us gathered to remember Lee, we laughed a lot, cried a lot, and remembered how Lee lived his life saying ďToday is a good day to die.Ē
Today Is A Good Day To Die
We knew what he meant – that every bit of love had been expressed, that every dream had been fulfilled, that Lee hadnít held anything back, and that death was nothing to fear. But when he was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and said to his young wife Kathy, ďToday is a good day to die,Ē she wasnít so thrilled to hear his aphorism.
Kathy wanted Lee to fight for his life – and he did, with chemo, radiation, meditation, shamanic work, and a variety of other healing modalities. But in the end, Lee was right. As much as it broke our hearts to lose him, his last today was indeed a good day to die.
Personally, Iíll avoid repeating Leeís wisdom. Even though everyone I love knows it, and every dream I have is actively being fulfilled or pursued, I donít want the Universe to get the wrong message.† Even though I live every day as if it could be my last, Iím thinking today is†not†a good day to die, so I donít want to give the cosmos permission to whisk me off this afternoon.
As Iím learning in the process of researching my book, what we say and believe can manifest in our health, and while Iím not in any way blaming Lee for his early demise, I think Iíll affirm that today is a good day to LIVE. And knowing Lee, I know thatís what he meant.
Making Peace With Death
What Lee demonstrated beautifully in his last two years of life was his ability to face the ultimate uncertainty with grace, wisdom, and peace. As he wrote in his book:
I knew that the more fear and anxiety I had, the higher my stress hormone levels would be. High stress hormones wear down the immune systemís function over time, giving cancer a better chance to grow. Fear promotes cancer growth; calm decreases it. My mode of being became Ďget quiet, enjoy life, and let my body do what it knows how to do – cure cancer.í
In the end, regardless of how well we fight a life-threatening illness, the outcome is beyond our control. We can make our bodies ripe for miracles, but if the Master Plan has other ideas for us, we must surrender. And Lee did. And he is sorely missed.