Book Review: Chasing Daylight

I read Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’Kelly after a reference to it in an audio book. It’s the story of KPMG CEO Eugene O’Kelly, a man that worked his way to the top and worked a lot. A great example was flying to Australia just to sit next to a potential client for 90 minutes on a local flight, and then turn around for the long trip back to the US. Successful, driven, and then his wife notices a droop in his face. Tests and more tests, and he learns he has about 90 days to live.

He leaves his job in a matter of days, and then turns to planning what he wants to do with the rest of the days he has while dealing with chemo and the reality of his impending death. He decides to visit with many of the people that he cared about and that shaped him, taking time to say good bye to each, or at least as many as he could in the time available, saving the final goodbyes for those closest to him. He also decides to write about the experience, and that’s what this book is about.

Most of us would rather not face our own mortality just yet, and certainly it’s true for me. Reading about trying to find ‘perfect moments’ with his wife, spending time with his 14 year old daughter and knowing that he’ll miss so much of her life. It’s hard reading, in the sense that you can’t help but be moved by just how hard all of that would be.

He wrote most of the book, and his wife wrote the final chapter after his death.

It’s worth reading. I try for balance in my own life, and rarely succeed. I like to work, I like to compete, and of course I have to work and compete to do the things I want do for my own family. Yet, it’s easy to just work because, and end up at the end of the road knowing that you could have done other things that would have meant more.

I don’t know that I could have written something like this. It’s deeply personal, but it’s also something that was written while it was happening, and that had to be hard enough to get through.

For me, the one take away wasn’t about trying to find the perfect balance, it was remembering to savor the moments that matter. That is something I can do. It’s worth reading, and I think I’ll probably read it again at some point.