Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi: 'The Time of My Life'

Looking back now, I wish I had done more of the proverbial "stop and smell the roses." So many gorgeous, beautiful things have happened in my life and I was too busy moving forward to really, truly recognize and enjoy them. I'm feeling different these days. Today I find myself much more willing to take luxurious, selfish pleasure in how beautiful a day is, the wonderful smell of my favorite mare's hair, and how much overflowing love I feel for my husband.

After Patrick was first diagnosed, I found myself wanting to go back in time and fix all the bumps that we had ever encountered. I wished we could start all over again so that this time we could do it differently. We could be wiser, avoid all those wrong turns we made, and not waste so much time. This time we would laugh more, touch each other more, and simply love each other in the way our true selves always have. And of course, if this daydream came true, I'd get a chance to live our lives together all over again, fulfilling my greatest wish -- to have more time with him.

In some ways, getting to do this book gave me a passport into the past. But not in the way I had thought. It couldn't elongate my time with him, but it did show me that some of those bumps I wished I could get rid of don't look so bad when we keep coming out on the other side. And they're a testament to the strength of what we are together.

You'd think that when someone close to you receives a death sentence it would inspire amazing insights and lessons about life. I know that's what I thought. But after his diagnosis, and after I started to recover from feeling I was trapped in a perpetual nightmare, I looked around and couldn't see a damn lesson in sight. Yet slowly, as I've been dealing with getting past the initial grief and fear, living each day that comes and running around preparing for all the things one can't possibly prepare for, the lessons have started to ease out into the open. I couldn't force them out any sooner. They come in their own time when they, and you, are good and ready.

There's a lot of wisdom in the idea of living one day at a time. And when you might not have someone for long, that's what starts to happen.

I used to be afraid of time -- that I'd run out of it, that I wouldn't have time to do all the things I wanted. Now I'm seeing each minute that passes as a victory. As something I'm proud of. It's like I can gather all these minutes into my arms as if they're an enormous mass of jewels. Look what I have -- another moment! A kiss, a stroke of the skin on my husband's arm, the light coming through the window just so...Each of these jewels gives me the confidence to stand up and look Death in the face and say, "No one's going anywhere today."

I can help Patrick -- I can coach him, love him, track his medications and calories, be there to kick him in the pants or just hold his hand if he needs it. But I can't save him. And I try to remember that. But I've got the best possible thing on my side: Patrick himself. I love that he's such a fighter. He's so amazingly strong and beautiful. He's my best weapon against this terrible disease.

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