When Chris Rosati of Durham, N.C., was 39 years old and expecting his second child, he received the unimaginable news that he had ALS. On average, the life expectancy after diagnosis of ALS is three years. But now, five and a half years later, Chris writes — with the help of his computer as his voice — a moving “Note to Self” about his decision to dedicate his remaining days to making other people happy. Here is the note he did for CBS News.
I am happy. And I am about to die.
How I got to be both is a beautiful story, and it begins with you.
You are on your knees in a cold exam room, waiting for the doctor to tell you what you already know – that there is no cure, that you will not live to walk your girls down the aisle.
You are lost. Alone. And you are terrified.
I can barely move, typing this with my eyes. But I’m not lost. I’m damn sure not alone. Scared? Yes. Also increasingly optimistic.
Stand up. And I will tell you what you need to know about the journey from your moment to mine.
You will lose the ability to hold your children, to touch your wife’s face. You will look into the souls of those you love, and you will hurt for their sadness.
Your wife will be the one who makes you believe in true love. She’s beautiful and funny and she believes in you. When you lack the strength, she lifts you up. After all these years, you still count the stars that shine in her eyes.
Then there are two smile-makers that are beautiful through and through. They will make you so happy. They are Empathy and Courage. They bring laughter and love, purpose and peace. They will see you at our worst. And they will make you better.
This may be hard to believe, but from all of the pain, you will find your redemption.
You will focus on what you love, making people smile.
You’ll discover the best way to make people happy is by helping them make others feel happy. That can make you feel alive – even when you feel like you are dying.
And the girls, they will be okay. They will be shaped by the journey, but they won’t be defined by it. They’re learning that the best way to live is to give, to worry less, and when we do what we love, we can do more than we ever imagined.
ALS may kill you, but it will make them better.
So go hug the folks running down the hall. Hugs, cry, scream, hurt – feel it all. But know that both despite and because of the sadness, the struggle and the misfortune, there are moments I look around now and wonder if I might be the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
If you would like to support Chris and his family, visit inspiremedianetwork.org.