Book Review – Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’Kelly

As a person who has read hundreds of business books, especially those about successful business people, I have a fair ability to review and rate business books. I have read biographies about Henry Ford, Richard Branson, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and even Martha Stewart, but have never read a book like Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’Kelly.

Eugene O’Kelly was a successful, down-to-earth, amazing man. He had two daughters, a wife who was his one true companion in life, and had worked his way up to CEO of the billion-dollar company, KPMG. Most Americans would agree that he had it all; a great family, a highly-respected well-paying job, and tons of friends. However, after being CEO for only two years, he started to notice his health deteriorating. One side of his face was slightly droopy and was showing signs of being paralyzed. In addition, headaches which he thought were stress-related were starting to become worrisome.

O’Kelly took time out of his busy schedule and long days to visit his doctors and have scans done on his head and brain. The results were frightening; he had three golf-ball sized tumors in three different parts of his brain which had been there so long that the tissue was dead, leaving him inoperable. Doctors told him that his prognosis was very bad and he should only expect to life for three more months. Chemotherapy and radiation were options that could possibly provide him a few more months of life, but they would also greatly diminish his quality of life.

O’Kelly realized within hours of his diagnosis that he would make the most out of his remaining time. He immediately resigned from his CEO position at KPMG, but agreed to stay around for a few weeks to ensure a smooth transition. While most people would sit back and become extremely depressed and angry, O’Kelly wanted to stay active and die the best death possible. This included calling all of the people in his life that had been closest to him, starting with those who he was close with, but not incredibly close like his family. These people included co-workers, college roommates, and family friends. He knew the chats and meetings with these people could potentially be awkward since it is so hard to say a final goodbye, but he carried on nevertheless. What he found was that these meetings were very pleasant and provided happiness in his life that he never expected. He created hundreds of what he called “perfect moments” where everything just seemed like it could not be better.

As time went on, Eugene filled his day with more friendly meetings and time spent with his two daughters and wife, Corinne. His vision began to blur and fade and his motor skills were deteriorating. He felt the need to relax and find inner-peace, and he found it one day while at a park. The sound of a water fountain and the peaceful thought of water flowing from one place to another allowed him to enter a peaceful zone. It was so peaceful that his daughter bought him a fountain for his home so he could relax anytime he wanted. The book also mentions that Eugene would rent a boat and take his family on day-long excursions just to relax and be around the water.

The way Eugene handled his upcoming death was truly amazing. It is frightening to think about the date of your death, but Eugene managed to overcome fear and depression and make the most of every day. He traveled with his daughters, he took time to meditate and relax with his wife, and he told his family how much he loved them and how his brother was an amazing father. In addition, he had the admirable idea to write a book to document his transition from the physical world to the spiritual world. This book was meant to show that knowing your own death date can actually be a blessing and allow you to realize how good life can be. Not only could he speculate on his own life and death, but the book gave him one last project to work on with his wife, Corinne.

Corinne was portrayed as a magnificent woman numerous times in this book. It is evident that Eugene thought the world of her and they were truly in love. When Eugene was writing the book, and knew that he could not continue writing to the last day of his life, he recruited Corinne to help him finish writing. She contributed with several sections to close out the book, documenting what we can learn from Eugene O’Kelly’s life and about his very last days. His wife gives us tips on how to live our lives, such as to face each moment as it comes and to live in the present. Eugene and Corinne found that he had a much better life when he stopped worrying about the future and what will happen in six months or a year.

The end of the book is encouraging but at the same time haunting. As Corinne writes about her husbands last three or four days alive, you start to realize just how special of a man he was. O’Kelly became extremely weak and inactive and was bed ridden in the last days of his life. He fought on as long as possible, but finally knew that he would die in the next day or two. Family surrounded him, including his daughter, wife, and sister-in-law as he said goodbye and died. Corinne makes the comment that even though everyone was very sad, it was a joyous moment knowing that he was in a better place and that his strong faith in God would take him to Heaven.

This book is very emotional and will open your eyes to the meaning of life and death. After reading, I felt how everyone has the ability to be more productive and life a better life. One easy step to take is to call the people you love and tell them so. One of the joys of being human is that we can communicate our emotions to each other and bring a smile to each other’s faces. It does not take long to make a phone call to someone you care about or even write a short email telling someone that you care about them. If you do take the time to make a call or send an email, you’ll probably find yourself more upbeat and might even find yourself smiling more often. This book is one that everyone should read. Eugene O’Kelly was a spectacular person and we should all strive to live the rest of our lives like the last three months of his. This book is rated a definite 5 out of 5.