What you already know: Life is short and not to be taken for granted.
Why I’m telling you: Well because reminders can be a good thing.
-When we tell little ones to be careful every time they go out to play.
-When we tell loved ones to travel safely and “call me when you get there”
-When we part from someone special we say, “I love you”
And it doesn’t matter how often we say it because we can never say it too much and we mean it every time. And it’s nice to hear, too, isn’t it? Even the most stoic among us (myself included) secretly like it when someone lets us know that we care. I still smile remembering the one time nearly 10 years ago my mother referred to me as her “sweet pea.” Trust me, this was a big deal.
And who knows if and when our encounters will be the last ever.
The last time I saw my grandma she was still in the hospital but looking much better and was being far more responsive than expected. I gave her a hug when we left and said, “See you next weekend” but she was gone a few days later.
We were told that my boss and very good friend Jocelyn was recuperating nicely from her kidney transplant. I opted not to go visit her at the hospital when my co-workers went since she would be home soon. She never made it home.
My dad was fine; not even sick for a full week. "Probably something I ate” he told me and the tests didn’t show any cause for alarm but they would hold him overnight anyway "just to observe." I called every night before 9 but this night a stupid team retreat ran over. I walked out before it was over. “I have to call before 9” I said, "they turn the phones off." They warned me if I left I would be written up for insubordination. I left anyway, and still missed the cut off time. I called the front desk. The nurse apologized and said there was nothing she could do. “Don’t worry honey, you can call your dad tomorrow. They turn the phones back on at 7 AM” The call came in at about 3:30a. Even as I write this I get pissed off all over again. (and do you know those bastards had the nerve to write me up after I came back from the funeral?)
This past week was rough for me.
A very dear friend and wonderful person lost her husband to cancer. A coworker passed away a few days later also from cancer. And a young friend of mine, like something out of a movie, was struck by a train after he got caught on a railroad track during a group outing.
Some of these events were expected and some were complete surprises but all of them hurt.
You always think about everything you could be doing and talking about if they were here. I didn’t start to get to know how cool my grandma was until only a couple of years before the stroke left her unable to speak. Jocelyn was my boss on a live-in job. I was young and she was like having a third parent. I had never experienced losing someone that was physically that close to me every day. I’d leave for class and she’d be somewhere near by, “Have a good day!” and every time I came back, “What did you learn today?” I worked there for another year and half after she passed but it was never the same.
A year to the day of losing Jocelyn, I lost my Dad. We spoke every single day. Every day. There is no way to explain what happens when you can’t stop picking up the phone at the same time every night to call someone that isn’t there anymore. This went on for years.
And yet Death serves as its own reminder for the survivors to go on living. Death makes you reflect on your own life and what you’re doing with it for better or worse. What am I doing? … could I be doing? … should be? … why don’t I? I think I will. And Lord willing and the creek don’t rise: “I did it!”
So now this ends with me telling you what you know I will.
-1- Tell someone you love them. Tell a family member, a friend, a stranger (though pick your stranger carefully)
-2- Appreciate what you have now rather than remember it fondly later.
-3- Give of yourself—either your time or your money, but find something you’re passionate about and help someone else have a chance to find their passion as well
-4- Focus your energy on those things that bring you joy. Any idiot can hate or complain but you are no idiot. You will love and you will change the world with your love.
And just as a reminder… Be good, take care, and I love you.
Songs to bless you: