“Must the end of life be the worst part?
Can it be made the best?”
At 53, Eugene O'Kelly was in the full swing of life. Chairman and CEO of KPMG, one of the largest U.S. accounting firms, he enjoyed a successful career and drew happiness from his wife, children, family, and close friends. He was thinking ahead: the next business trip, the firm's continued success, weekend plans with his wife, his daughter's first day of eighth grade.
Then in May 2005, Gene was diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer and given three to six months to live. Just like that.
Now a growing darkness was absorbing the bright future he had seen for himself. He would have to change his plans, quickly, and capture what he could of his last diminishing days.
Chasing Daylight is the account of his final journey. Starting from the time of his diagnosis and concluded upon his death less than four months later, this book is his unforgettable story.
With startling intimacy, it chronicles the dissolution of Eugene O'Kelly's life and his gradual awakening to a more profound understanding. Interweaving unsettling details of his battle with cancer with his moment-to-moment reflections on life and death, love and success, spirituality and the search for meaning, it provides a testament to the power of the human spirit and a compelling message about how to live a more vivid, balanced, and meaningful life.
Inspiring, passionate, deeply insightful, Chasing Daylight is a remarkable man's poignant farewell to a beloved world.
O'Kelly, the former CEO and chairman of accounting juggernaut KPMG who was diagnosed with brain cancer at 53, writes about his "forthcoming death" as one would expect an accountant to: methodically. He charts his downward spiral, from symptoms to diagnosis to the process of dying in this poignant and posthumously published book. (O'Kelly died in September 2005.) O'Kelly's narrative recounts the steps he took to simplify his life-how he learned, for instance, "to be in the present moment, how to live there at least for snippets of time"-and the final experiences he shared with close friends and family. But his story falters on several occasions. O'Kelly provides few substantial details regarding his long career with KPMG; what information he does offer, and his wishes for the firm's continued success, read like portions of a company newsletter. He also refers constantly to his "wife of 27 years, Corinne, the girl of my dreams," but he fails to give readers a sense of her spirit and personality. (She wrote the final chapter, which takes place largely in the hospital as O'Kelly refuses food and water, eventually dying of an embolism.) Nor do readers learn much of O'Kelly's 14-year-old daughter, other than she's bright and he loves her. Though less than perfect, O'Kelly's examination of the life he lived and the opportunities he missed while climbing the corporate ladder will resonate with readers in "foot to the pedal" careers.