Life on the Back Nine

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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In the first three months of the year, I’ve lost friends due to various illnesses — none of them primarily because of age — and I’ve worried about some other friends’ troubling health. All of this has made me reflect on the time I have left, given that I’m knocking on the door of 58 while living with pulmonary sarcoidosis. Mortality is in my neighborhood.

While an uncle, the oldest of this group, died four weeks ago at 93, he suffered from several health-related issues that contributed to his passing. Then, two weeks ago, I attended the funeral of my old friend John D., who had been sick with cancer since this past October. Last week, another old friend underwent open-heart surgery. And still another old friend, Johnny W., passed two days later.

I’ve taken time to reflect on them, and what their stories mean to my own life and how I live it.

A retreat with reflections

Every few months, I take a trip to my brother-in-law Johnny’s house. His home, about 40 miles from Philadelphia, is my personal retreat, where I can relax and do nothing. My son and I recently went there and took advantage of the opportunity to regroup, relax, restore, and renew ourselves. These visits are better than any man cave.

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During the trip there and afterward, I couldn’t help but think about my old friend John D. While he was ill, I had called him, and we spoke for about two minutes. He told me he felt “lousy” and that he would call later when he felt better.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. He celebrated his 63rd birthday on Feb. 1 and passed away on March 5.

My mom was 64 when she suddenly passed from an aneurysm. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bothered by their similarities in age. I could feel my own clock ticking.

Despite such thoughts, I was beginning to relax and not overworry the events of the past few weeks, but then I got blindsided by yet another loss.

I found out that another close friend, Johnny W., was spending time on a ventilator and not doing well. Later that evening, I received the news that he had passed. He would’ve turned 60 this year.

Johnny W.’s services were April 1, and my mother’s birthday was the next day. They both are laid to rest in the same cemetery. All of this hits too close to home for me.

The impact of mortal thoughts

After Johnny W. passed, I started to think about my own mortality and what else I wanted to do in my life, and how I wanted to live it. 

In case you haven’t noticed, life is short. I have more days behind me than ahead of me. Every day is a new adventure to do something worthwhile. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep yesterday in the past, but that’s where it belongs. Worrying about the future doesn’t change the past.

Never doubt your abilities. You have people around you who’ll do that. Rise and set with the sun, and live the time in between.

Nothing is promised. Remember that.

Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


Annel avatar


Thank you Charlton for being transparent. Live Today!

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thank You, Annel.
Everday you have to Live, Love and Laugh even when you feel you can't. That's living and we all deserve it.
Thanks for reading!

Kathy Cassidy avatar

Kathy Cassidy

I am trying to remember to live for today. I was diagnosed with pulmonary sarcoidosis just two and half weeks ago.

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Welcome, Kathy.
Pulmonary Sarcoidosis can be a challenge, but don't let it dampen your spirits. . . if you can. You'll have challenges, but remember every day is a new adventure, so go and enjoy living your life and keep your spirits high!
Thanks for reading and I look forward to more correspondence from you!
Stay Blessed!

adam avatar


Hi Charlton, so sorry to hear about recent passing of your friends. We all need to try and stay as positive as we can although sometimes it can be rather difficult particularly when it comes to our health. Thanks once again for trying to emphasise the positives in our world, it all comes across as very genuine and is much appreciated. Take care, best wishes from all your friends in Australia.

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Hey Adam-
It's always good to hear from my Australian friends, and thanks for reading and commenting. Our health challenges can be like a game of "hide and seek", you hide and it seeks you out, but knowing how the game is played makes us better players. Remember everyday is a new adventure so hold on tight, and buckle up for the ride!


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