“Closing in on -30-” asks you to think about what you would do if a doctor told you that you only had two years to live. Would you cry? Get your affairs in order? Plan an extravagant trip?
When Mark Mooney, who had been battling prostate cancer for many years, received a two-year prognosis from his doctor, he started a blog. He named it “Closing in on -30-.” To Mooney, a journalist, the symbol -30- meant that an article was finished and that there was no further copy to follow.
Mooney writes deftly with no trace of self-pity. In “Closing in on -30-” he describes his son storing fireworks next to his oxygen tanks as easily as he talks about Bell’s palsy giving him a lopsided, rakish smile.
One memorable post discusses accessing marijuana for his nausea, vomiting and extreme weight loss. The venture was more complicated than Mooney could have imagined. First, he had to find a doctor who would recommend marijuana. His insurance declined to pay for the office visit, which cost him $250. His insurance also would not pay for the paraphernalia or for the two blends of marijuana that the doctor recommended. Out of pocket expense? Eight hundred dollars. He would have spent less buying the drug on a street corner.
What made the whole experience even more aggravating was that he inhaled one dose of one of the blends one time and then decided to abandon the whole experiment. His faith in all medications was low at the time, he explains.
As Mooney grows sicker, his posts in “Closing in on -30-” grow shorter and the symptoms he describes become more alarming. There is no question in the reader’s mind that he is coming to the end of his life. Then, one day, there is a post from his daughter, Maura. Her father is too ill to write that day, she explains. The next post, written by Mooney’s wife, Barbara, says much the same thing.
The next post is written by Mark Mooney again, but there is a catch. The post is posthumous. Mooney is dead. His family has updated the blog so that his readers can see his final musings.
Unlike many people who regret the long hours they’ve spent at work and wish they had spent that time with their families, Mooney says he wishes that he had spent more time at work. “I wish I had done more work as a news reporter. Written better stories. Made more and better contacts. Skipped some of the easier pieces and done more in-depth stories. Spent more time on foreign stories. Been a better editor.”
At the same time, Mooney expresses deep love and appreciation of his family, his wife, Barbara, his daughter, Maura, and his son, Paul.
Mark Mooney died on October 6, 2017. Instead of giving in to fear or despair, he used his talent as a journalist to offer a clear-eyed view of life’s final chapter. If you have time — or even if you think you don’t — “Closing in on -30-” makes for an amazing, life-affirming read.