If you would like your life put into focus, your gratitude quotient increased and your spirit expanded, you only have to read this young man's reflections on his life, thereby having your heart opened wide. Even though elements of sorrow will instruct you, you'll be lifted and blessed.
I was introduced by a friend to Miles Levin's CarePages blog. I loved him quickly and he is in my heart where he will remain. He represents all who confront the physical and emotional agonies of illness, and the recognition that their lives are ending. Miles is a writer of great talent and by his eloquence imparts many gifts from his vision of life. If you "listen" to him, you'll immediately know this isn't a child of eighteen speaking, but a man who tells us important lessons he's learned from which you can't help but benefit in your own, hopefully less tragic, life.
Despite his circumstances Miles still reveals his sense of humor - gently, subtly, or with quips typical of a very bright teen, which he is, and of a witty individual mature with years he may never have. When you read him you'll find he isn't wasting his precious time reciting all the facts that he could about the dismal aspects of his existence. He is sharing himself in a blog that is honest, so it's of course necessary to speak of sadness and pain as his writing is soul-baring. But he does not clout the reader over the head with the darkness of his situation. He illuminates truths that lead us to conclude that a higher quality of life is found in recognizing and valuing the good in every day, even when it has an early expiration date, as it does for him.
Miles sees himself as a spokesperson for what it's like to live with his cancer and, as he wrote, what it's like to die with rhabdomyosarcoma. He suggests perhaps that's why he was put on earth. What he modestly didn't say is that his words and the way he lived his life demonstrate how to live with immense dignity, the degree of which would be amazing for an adult, let alone a teenager. He reveals what it's like to live heroically, a difficult goal each of us would wish to accomplish in his position, a goal Miles has supremely achieved.
From Miles' June 5, 2007 blog entry: For one blissful split second when I first wake up, I don't know who or where or what I am. The only thing I'm aware of is the tail end of my dreams. The other systems haven't turned on yet. Soon the dreams will fragment and vanish, but for a fleeting moment, all I am is the perfect echo. It all dawns on me very quickly. Oh yeah, I'm Miles. Oh right, this is not my bed--this is the Ronald McDonald House. I'm here because I've relapsed with my cancer and I'm nearly out of treatment options. Every morning, I learn anew that I have cancer. Fortunately, the pang of this discovery is over faster than it starts. I regain my bearings.
This is a beautiful person who seeks his mission in the midst of a cruel fate. I believe he's found it. His book will inform you, make you proud he's a member of your human family, probably cost you some tears, but ultimately refresh your spirit and challenge you to appreciate all your moments, a vow each of us has made but too frequently lets lapse.
Is it possible that because of Miles I have a joyful breaking heart? I believe it is. After you discover the joy that is Miles for yourself, please pass this gift along to people you care about.
Before he died I wrote this to him: "The talent for expression you have and your courage and insight are parts of you that will be never-ending. Don't leave us any sooner than you have to, Miles, but be assured that you'll stay here always." He took the time to thank me in a return e-mail, saying that my "kind words mean a lot, especially now." I take time now from within my long life to thank him for all he is giving.
You may order the book Keep Fighting, Stop Struggling: The Miles Levin Story in softcover through the "order book" button on the Home page of this website or in e-book through Amazon.com. for Kindle or Barnesandnoble.com for Nook.
Without exaggeration I have to say that knowing Miles through his writing has made a major change in my life. What I read in his blog has blessedly "forced" me to look more deeply at my life. At my attitudes and consequent behavior, my modus operandi if you will. I see more clearly than ever how precious every moment is.
And so, Miles, I'm very certain that I'm one of many thousands who have felt your healing touch in their lives while feeling the fierce incongruity that you yourself aren't healed. How can such injustice be? Perhaps someday all of us will have that answer and be reassured that there is fairness where we perceived none.
Your spirit, Miles, especially yours, won't cease to exist.
Dianne Rice, Michigan author and poet