Over the last few weeks, I’ve learned a little bit about life. No, I’m not talking about the meaning of life, but the gift of life and how quickly it can change or be taken away. Unfortunately, I’ve had this epiphany due to the misfortunes of others.
I traveled to Johnstown, PA to attend my wife’s grandmother’s funeral. She was 92 years old and lived a long life with many experiences. We helped my wife’s parents sort through her belongings and close out her affairs. While roaming through the old photos and such, I was impressed by the amount of friends she had throughout her life, and really started to appreciate all that life can offer. After all, there is so much to do in 92 years and I’m only a little over half way there.
When I returned home, I got news that my brother had been admitted to the hospital. He had some memory problems and it was soon discovered that his earlier melanoma had metastasized to his brain and lungs. He has a very challenging fight ahead of him. He’s 55.
My first cousin Perry’s granddaughter has been going through a tough time herself. She’s having rapid heart rate which is wearing the poor girl down, as it is her mother. Both are fighters. Berklee is only 3 months old.
My cousin’s best friend form high school, who happened to marry a gal from my graduating class suffered two strokes and a heart attack within a week’s time about a month or so ago. He’s younger than my brother. He survived and is apparently doing well in therapy…but he has quite a struggle ahead. As does Berklee…and my brother, Jeff.
The combined ages of these three barely add up to the age of Kathleen when she passed on. It hardly seems fair that people so young, whether it be 55 years or 3 months, should face such life-threatening challenges. And that’s when it really hit home.
It may be a cliché as much as it’s a song title, but I’d realized it’s important to live like you’re dying…to live as if it’s your last day. Carpe Diem. However you want to say it. I tend to live my life by following a pretty basic routine. I get up in the morning, fix breakfast for the family, go to work, come home and fix dinner, then relax and go to bed. Weekends are spent running errands as our work day evenings don’t allow time to perform such deeds. I enjoy my life, but frankly, there’s not much “fun” to it outside of the general joy of parenting and family life. And if I were to die today, I can’t say that I’d have more than a handful of people attend my funeral. I’m alive, but I can’t say I’m absolutely living.
My wife and kids mean the world to me…they ARE my life. But again, I’ve realized that I need to lead them as a father/husband should do…lead them into a life of living and excitement. Not a life of unnecessary risks, but a life of breathless moments and joyful giving.
I would love to live a life as long as Kathleen did. But it’s become all too clear lately that life may not last that long. There may not be a tomorrow to allow me to do something I want to do. Now is the time to do it.
I can’t change immediately…I’m not wired that way. But recent events have slapped me in the face pretty hard, and it’s time to listen.