When days are Numbered
Louise Johansson is a kitesurfing, deer-hunting and horseriding bundle of energy. Eventhough she is paralyzed from the waist down you will never hear her say “no” to any activity. Except golf – but as she says “The only reason for giving up golf is because it is too expensieve”. She is a young woman in her early 40-ties; living everyday as if it’s her last becaue her cancer is terminal and she knows it.
When I met Louise Johansson I was immediately struck by the peaceful energy beaming from her small posture. I seriously got the feeling the lamps behind her didn’t need electricity but was glowing on her energy alone. However underneath her quiet appearance a deadly cancer is growing.
“I understand what’s going to happen. I do not want it to happen and if I could do anything to stop it I would but I can’t.”Louise Johansson says about her disease.
She got her diagnosis last spring. At first doctors were optimistic about curing her. But they were wrong and the cancer came back even stronger than before.
I understand what’s going to happen. I do not want it to happen and if I could do anything to stop it I would
I feel deeply honored that she agrees to spend an hour with me for this interview. “My days are numbered but my condition is not a secret in the family. Actually we joke about it a lot. That is such a relief – for everyone i think”, she tells me.
I ask Louise if there is anything she regrets and yes; there are two things. “Driving home from work on that road 13 years ago. I had a car accident that left me paralyzed from the waist and down. Had I taken another road that night I might not be in a wheel chair today.
The second thing I regret is not sooner understanding the true value of my life.” Louise replies. First an accident puts her in a wheelchair then she is diagnosed with cancer.
I regret not sooner understanding the true value of my life
Be that as it may Louise points out; she have let go of thoughts of regret because she cannot undo the past.
Avoiding the wake up call
Contemplating on how she wasted 40 years before realizing how precious life is, used to make Louise very angry. Before the diagnosis she would say “Someday I would like to do this or that.” Now she is aware of “someday” may very well never be hers to live.
You don’t have to wait for a car crash or sickness to think about what really matters
She is not angry anymore. She has come to terms with her condition and in order to fully enjoy the days she has left, she will not waste them on anger or negativity. There is simply no time for that. Today she runs a small business selling her own design: “Louand Design” and when she is not out kiting on the big waves you find her shooting pistol in local competitions.
Louise has a very resolut message she wants to pass on: Acknowledge your mortality. Dont wait for a wake-up call to create change in your life.
“You don’t have to wait for a car crash to happen for you to think about what really matters. You can do so right now, today, no matter what else is happening in your life,” she points out.
The Glass Half Full
Since she cannot undo her cancer she focuses on things she can change. Like her attitude. She told me: “Attitude is important. Pick a good one. Every day. Even when it is hard!” A decision she herself makes every morning. Her glass is always half full.
“I have accepted my fate. But that does not mean that I have given up. I still hope to be around another year. I have tickets to an Ed Sheeran concert next summer. Furthermore my husband and I are planning a trip to Australia. ” Louise reveals.
Don’t be mortal about your fears and immortal about your dreams
Talking to Louise reminds me of that death comes to all of us and the sooner we come to terms with it the better. She personify the courage of not being mortal about your fears; don’t be afraid of taking risks, get a new job or move to another city. And at the same time she tells me not be immortal with my dreams. Stop saying that this or that is something I can do when I get older, or when I have a holiday or just someday.
“I believe that those who accept the circumstance and attempt to create closure makes better choices compared to those who pretends they aren’t dying.” declares Louise.
The Bucket List
I ask if there is any advice she would like to pass on. Her answer comes promptly “Write yourself a list of things you want to do. Not what your parents or friends want you to do with your life. Be selfish and only put down stuff that matters to YOU”.
Life after death is not the issue. It is living well up to that point
A list like this is also known as a “Bucket List”. However as Louise points out most people fill their list with things they think should be on it.
“Some people spend time on a career. But why? Spend your time and your life on things that really matter. No one regrets they did not get to swim with dolphins. But they do regret not spending enough time with friends and family”, Louise says.
“I take the time to see everything that I didn’t before. The beauty. The birds. Nature. My husband’s smile. Life after death is not the issue. It is living well up to that point”, she explains.
No one regrets they did not get to swim with dolphins
Louise is the bravest person I ever met. She is at peace with her fate; she is not afraid of dying and tells me she never was. What troubles her most is not the cancer killing her but the pain of leaving her husband behind; the love of her life. It was meant to be that they should walk together side by side through life but that is not how this will end. He will have to walk that road for himself.
What the medium told her
A couple of months ago Louise visited a medium ago together with a friend. “I do not really know why we did it. I guess I was just curious about it”, she says and tells me how she always has been a skeptic when it comes to supernatural stuff. However meeting the medium turned out different than she expected.
Some people do not have to live a long life to get all from it that was meant to be… At that time I still thought I was cured from the cancer. Maybe the medium knew it before I did
“The medium told me some things about my family that she could not have known. And then she said something that didn’t make sense at first. She told me how some people do not have to live a long life to get all from it that was meant to be… At that time I still thought I was cured from the cancer and I was going to be well. Maybe the medium already knew my days were numbered. Maybe she knew it before I did.” says Louise.
Dying with a view
Due to the nature of her disease Louise does not know when her final day will arrive. She hopes she will feel it in due time for her husband to take her to their cabin by the ocean; a home that holds a special place in her heart. This is where they planned to get old and where she hopes to die: overlooking the wonderful view from the garden
I start getting ready to leave when Louise gives me a final advice: “Most people live with blinders on. They are so caught up with the things that distract you from what really matters. What really matters is the people you love.”
The clock is ticking for all of us. We might try to ignore the constant ticking and pretend that we will go on forever. Even so sooner or later death comes for all of us. I hope you take the advice from Louise Johansson and start realizing right now how much beauty there is in life. Stop procrastinate the things you want to do. Do it now because someday is just another word for never.
Louise’s Big Five for Life: Top 5 list of things to prepare for your own death:
1) Downsize, Donate, and Declutter.
Every once in a while go through your stuff and get rid of the things you do not need. Don’t leave this for others to do.
2) Don’t wait to achieve your goals and resolve conflicts
Take the time and write down what you want to accomplish in your life. And if you have any conflicts with friends or family – resolve them before it is too late
3) Getting your paperwork in order is comforting for everyone
If there is a question about heritage make sure to get your paperwork in order. Do not leave it to your relatives to fight about what you leave behind.
4) Be Selfish
Focus on what you want to do. That does not mean you should be rude and unkind. Just focus on what makes you happy. Not on what your parents or peers think you should do.
5) Talk about your death and funeral with those close to you
Do you want a big or a small funeral? Do you want to be cremated? Maybe you want your ceremony to be held in the forest? Talk about it and write it down. Do not let the people you leave behind to deal with these questions when they are mourning your passing.
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