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Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed by Life

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,244 ratings  ·  204 reviews
At 53, Eugene O'Kelly was in the full swing of his life. He enjoyed a successful career and drew happiness from his wife, children, family and close friends. Then in May 2005, Gene was diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer. This is his account of his final journey.
Hardcover, 179 pages
Published December 5th 2005 by McGraw-Hill Companies
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Jane Cornett
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My husband read this book shortly after receiving a stage-4 terminal diagnosis. It was a huge help to him in resolving his feelings and being able to be "in the moment" and I'm grateful that I could be "in the moment" with him. I have since read this book myself and corny as it sounds, it's not a book about dying, it's a book about how to go about living. No regrets here, your life is what you can make of it.
This book is a short read, but in those pages, it spares no detail regarding what a businessman, an intelligent, well-educated, highly thought of CEO, goes through when being told he has 3 months to live.

We all, at one time or another, think about death - most of us will ponder it, fear it, and put it on the back burner for "later" and get on with our lives. However, what happens when an otherwise healthy man in his 50's suddenly realizes the end is near? This is a man with long-term plans -
Caleb Liu
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
Given that this memoir is written as a final testament after corporate CEO Eugene O'Kelly discovers that he has at most 3-6 months to live due to an inoperable brain tumour, with the whole of it written during that period, it would seem downright unsympathetic and unfeeling to say harsh things about it. Let me begin by saying that I fully appreciate his noble purpose in writing the book, that he truly believes that sharing the insights he has learned during his final days and months in ...more
Travel Writing
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one comes to mind.
Shelves: grief, memoir, drudge
"I was blessed. I was told I had three months to live."

So begins what should have been a haunting story of a man's death sentence right at a moment in time he was powerful, driven, successful, wealthy, and going 100 miles an hour in the direction of more.

As much as I desperately wanted to like this story, it just read like a CEO. He was a CEO. In case you missed that- he was a CEO. Did he mention he was a CEO, because he is a CEO. Just do not ever forget he is a CEO- writing a book to
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
The one word that came to mind while reading this was "tedious". If I read CEO one more time, I think I would have quit reading. After the first paragraph you get it --he was a big shot in the business world. Did I need to keep being told about it? No!

Reading about someone's death is always touching. Story is interesting but it would have been better written as an essay rather than a book. It felt to me that I kept reading the same paragraph over and over; it was just arranged differently. I
Gretchen Rubin
This was a re-read. A fascinating memoir written by someone who had a very short time to live.
May 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Mr. O'Kelly was the former CEO of KPMG, the firm that my husband used to work for. All KPMG employees were able to get a free copy of his book, so, Mr. B did.

Obviously autobiographical, it's about the methodical (yet poignant) manner in which O'Kelly went about the process of putting his affairs in order and saying good-bye to people when he found out he had less than three months to live. It's straight forward, not maudlin, and it has lots of golf analogies ("Chasing Daylight" being one of
Patrick Williams
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked this book and since we are all going to die someday, I was curious how someone in their last months would view life and how we can learn from this for our own lives.

His diagnosis of brain cancer come rather suddenly and his book is his documentation of how he grappled with this fact, prepared for his upcoming death and learned different life lessons.

For me, I found the life lessons he learned during this time to be good for a person to ponder. Here are some of the lessons:

1. Live in the
Catherine Gillespie
Sep 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I checked out Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Lifeafter someone else’s recommendation, but I almost returned it to the library unread. A book about someone’s forthcoming death? I figured it would either be a total downer or would be one of those pink and purple fluffy cloud books. On a whim I decided to read the first few pages while I was packing the bag to go back to the library.

And I couldn’t put it down.

The author of the book, Eugene O’Kelly, was CEO of KPMG (one of
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was working on KPMG and heard that Eugene died. Even though i worked there i never knew the guy existed. He was way beyond anything i could ever imagine myself being. The company was gracious enough to offer a book to anyone who wanted one. I jumped on the opportunity to learn what this was about. I was really impressed and i cried several times in the book. It was touching and amazing to think about what he had gone through. I learned a lesson that is very difficult to accept and changed my ...more
Melanie Coughlin
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
The real test of a book for me is whether I remember it after I have closed its pages for the last time. A year after doing just that, I find this book is in my head. Yes, as some of the other reviewers have remarked, the book is a bit depressing. But the big picture outweighs the occasional feelings of sadness I felt in reading it. Overall, I feel this is a story of hope and of compassion. The author discusses how he, as a wealthy man of means, sat next to people of much lesser means during his ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
This was a really great book that really gives you some perspective on life. Granted it was a little sad, but well worth the read. I would definitely give it a try, it was very enlightening.
Shirley Brosius
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Eugene O’Kelly was CEO of a major American firm when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 53. He immediately decided to approach death as he had life—with careful planning. This led him to leave his job and to choose a medical protocol that would allow him to make the most of the little time he had left. He died three and a half months after his diagnosis.

Rather than focusing on what might be, O’Kelly decided he would live in the moment, enjoying its beauty. He would not think about the
Rishi Prakash
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written by Eugene O'Kelly when he was 53 year old in 2005 after getting diagnosed with an advanced-stage cancer. At that time he was the chairman and CEO of KPMG (one of the Big 4 Accounting and Audit Firm) and was working almost 18 hours a day. The diagnosis was a bolt from blue as he had never seen it coming and hence was completely ambushed. He wrote this book during his final 100 days when he could see “life” slipping every day from his life.

He makes up his mind and gets
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
At the risk of sounding insensitive, the insight I got from this book wasn't worth the length of the book. I felt I could've read just the second half (or really, just the afterward) and have the same takeaways. Gene O'Kelly's writing isn't great, and I suspect it's because of his former role as CEO of KPMG that this was published. I felt his wife's writing at the end was much better, and the way she wrote about her partnership with her husband was heartwarming.

Despite the tediousness of the
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
An very touching, inspiring, and difficult book to read. Written almost totally by Gene O'Kelly, this book is a story about his own personal "winding down" of his life after finding out he had cancer in May of 2005. He passed in September of 2005 (I believe I have the dates right). While certainly moving, the provides new insight into a person who was given the opportunity to actively bring their life to a close.

Instructive and poingant, there book is full of lessons we should be applying every
Derek Meier
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Most powerful book I've ever read. This book led me to practice yoga - the practice of awakening and preparation for death. WE must be spending our lives practicing for death. This book is ultimately about love and the gift of life - with great ideas on how to live your life with purpose, meaning and intention. My deepest gratitude to the authors. This book forever changed the course of my life and I am humbled and eternally grateful for the wisdom contained in these pages!
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well written and elnlightening book on a long-avoded topic: death.

O'Kelly was the CEO of a major firm when he was diagnosed with brain cancer and told he had about 100 days to live.

The book tracks his life and thoughts during the last 100 days of his life. Suffice to say that it contains more than a few deep insights into what is important in life and what is trivial.
Aug 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A touching story of how a successful business man took his "death" to a personal level. I loved the thoughts that he shared and his attitude about how to close his life. Very touching.
Apr 14, 2008 rated it liked it
A very thoughtful way to die, a chance most people aren't offered, and if they are wouldn't know what to do.
Elaine Armstrong
May 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book - it made you think about what's really important in life and who's really important.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Overall I was unimpressed by this book. I may have given it 2 stars out of guilt from the subject matter.
Sep 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: friend-referred
A tad depressing, but overall enlightening book about how one man approached his impending death.
Andy Cromer
Jan 07, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While I tried very hard to enjoy Eugene's story (don't get me wrong I had empathy for the man), his endless mentioning of how he was a CEO and used to be at the top of his game made the book tough to read.

I think the review by Travel Writing on 12/17/16 sums up my thoughts perfectly.

Below is an excerpt of Travel Writing's review:

As much as I desperately wanted to like this story, it just read like a CEO. He was a CEO. In case you missed that- he was a CEO. Did he mention he was a CEO, because
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Eugene O'Kelly was 53 years old and the CEO of KPMG; he was living a hard-charging life with his wife and two daughters when he was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. He was given 3 months to live. This book chronicles how that news changed his life, outlining the deliberate steps he took to spend more time with his family, unwinding relationships with friends and loved ones, and how he re-focused his energies to accepting his impending death.

O'Kelly says that he was lucky - his death
Michael Schiess
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
A woman recommended this book on a date and I decided to read it. I always love getting and giving book recommendations. This book is difficult subject matter but has had a huge impact on my life. Eugene O'Kelly was the CEO of KPMG and diagnosed with terminal cancer. While the book sounds many somber and sad notes, I found it to be uplifting. The author resigns from his CEO job to spend time saying goodbye to everybody in his life - he tries to pick an activity, travel, restaurant, memory, that ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
No one relishes the thought of their mortality...their fragility...but as I read O'Kelly's book, there's a line from Flannery O'Connor's short story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find" that keeps ringing in my ears: "She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

O'Kelly's book reminds me that there's a gun being held to my head, and at some point, the gun will go sounds morbid, but his book isn't morbid, despite
Kathie Kuehl
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Eugene O’Kelly, chairman of KPMG, (a very large very well known accounting firm), wrote this book after he was diagnosed with inoperable late stage brain cancer. He was only 53 and was given 3 months to live. This was in June 2005; he died on Sept. 10, 2005. Determined to live in the present moment to make the most of the time he has left, he writes about the rather methodical way he approached what he wanted to do in the final months of his life. Most important was spending time with family and ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have a habit of making notes - putting my own description of the story or experience being shared with me by the author - using a pencil. By the time I finish a book you can find notes all across the book. This book, though small in size, yet has moved me more than any other book - So resulted in more notes than any other book I read recently.

When you listen to someone’s tale of success- you sat in awe for something - someone has done amazingly. In summary- Important thing is to see the beauty
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was brave of him to write this book as he faced death. He managed to find a way to create perfect moments and prepare his mind/body/soul for the transition to death, so he could be at peace at the end.
It may be easy to quibble with his approach to his unwindings - I wish he would have moved up his special trip with his daughter Gina so it wouldn't have been canceled due to his declining health. But I admire how he methodically set out to show appreciation to people in his life and share
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“It’s a blessing. It’s a curse. It’s what you get for saying hello to people. At some point, a good-bye is coming, too. Not just to all the people you love and who love you back, but to the world as well.” 5 likes
“When facing reality, we want to see the big picture. To simplify, it’s important to consider all aspects of our experience. The experience of being in the moment centers us, and being centered puts us in the moment. Recognizing perfection requires us to notice where we are at any given moment. If we are in the center, also look to the periphery. Likewise, if we are on the periphery, recognize where the other rings are and where the center is. Achieving balance is the ability to be centered wherever we are. Ideally, we want to increase the size of the center so that it encompasses as many rings as possible.” 3 likes
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