Thursday, June 7, 2012

The last day of your life...

I  spoke with a good friend today. Five of his family members have been in Europe on vacation. On Monday, they were traveling together by car. His cousin and her husband of two months were part of the group. I am sure the morning started with love, great coffee, laughter and excitement about the day ahead. While on the road, their car unexpectedly swerved. And one wheel hit wet grass. The car swerved again, with more intent and out of control. It hit trees before careening down a ravine. And now three of those family members have died and the other two are in the hospital.  And not one of them knew at 9 am that morning, today is the last day of your life.

When my friend said he has had a tragic week so far, my heart went out to him. And it made me think.

We already know that life can change. It can change in a moment; the fraction of the time it takes you to answer a question, make a grocery list, pour your coffee, check your blackberry. We fully understand it and because of that understanding we also know we should openly love, follow through, and be present.  But more importantly, we should live each day as if it is our last.

And we don't.

Because if we did, we would think about how that last day of our life we are busy building was going to turn out. Perhaps we would rethink certain things we would do and say or certainly rethink things we might NOT do and say. For me, I don't live every day like it was my last. If I did, every day would incorporate me dancing. With some 80s remixes. And hot pants. And a fan.

And I would love fully, try always, judge little and complain never. We would all temper anger, release grievances, get over our own pettiness and overcome our fears. We would also laugh more, be kinder, increase our patience, buy a boat, eat doughnuts, have sex on the kitchen table and decide, yes I can complete a triathalon (or a French cooking class, or Italian lessons.)  And you would call your sister you haven't spoken to in months because of your fight over vacation plans. Or you might tell someone else in your family to literally go ----- themselves because you have simply had enough of their suffocating personality.

And you would live fully. And you would love freely.

Because we know that anyday could be our last, the most important thing is what is the story you want to tell about the last day of your life.

Months ago, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook about the morning she spent with her kids:


*Gave Appreciation Notes to Cashiers, Stock People, Drive-thru attendants and other hardworking individuals
*Gave an unsuspecting Teller flowers at the bank (this made EVERYONE there smile)
*Brought doughnuts and thank you cards to the local Police and Fire Departments
*Wished strangers Happy Easter
*Helped an Elderly Lady put her groceries in her car and pushed her cart in
*Taped exact money to several vending machines
*Gave fruit to co-workers
*Let another driver merge
*Gave Candy to Car detailers
*Left uplifting notes in ladies restrooms
*Complimented Strangers
*Left money under lunch bowl
*Gave a very kind partially deaf cashier a love note and $ ( she was sooo surprised )
*Left goodies bags with crayons, note cards, and small toys in them for children in the ER waiting area at our local hospital
*Left a thank you note and apple for the mailman
*Paid for a random ladies coffee at Starbucks
*Left several Gift cards with kind notes in between books at Barnes and Noble.
*Held doors for strangers
*Delivered food to the local SPCA and visited with the animals
*Left thank you notes with the SPCA volunteers
*Gave trail mix and cheer to Homeless people in Town's Square
*Gave scratch off lottery tickets to strangers

And because she is lovely inside and out, I wasn't a bit suprised. It is a reminder that we all have time to do great things. It is all about choices. And it is reminder to me that I want to incorporate more love and giving into every day of my life. And if it were my last day, loving and giving is exactly the type of story I would want to tell.

So if today were my last day, my story would start like this:

Woke up to the smiling face of my son and the quasi-smiling but quite sleepy yet dashing handsome face of  my husband.
Enjoyed tea my husband made for me and fresh mango.
Kissed my son 100 times and sang Jane Says by Jane's Addiction with him. Loudly. Perhaps too loudly for aforementioned sleepy husband.
Did a favor for a friend.
Sent a sympathy card to another friend dealing with loss this week.
Sent cards to Mom, Dad and Aunt and Uncle in the mail.
Prepared for big presentation and appreciated support from two colleagues I respect.
Had adults only time with husband.
Made plans with a good friend.
Had short but meaningful conversations with two other good friends.
Made plans for Father's Day with my Father in Law.
Gave a Starbucks card to the driver of my airport parking shuttle.
Helped an older couple at aiport.
Gave a Vosges chocolate bar (the BEST) to a woman at my hotel who was vey helpful last week.

And the day isn't even half over. Imagine the possiblities.
It's your story. Go write it.


Vodka Logic said...

Wow that is awful.. my best to your friend.

Certainly a wake up call. It is so easy to get dragged down in day to day BS.

My mother in law is 97 it is hard to think she feels the same..I hope I can be so lucky..

off to hug my kids xx

brokenteepee said...

It's because we are human and we are wired to NOT think it's the last day of our life. We are wired to think of the future.

Even those of us who have faced death and have been given life back forget at times. It's human nature...when it's your time, it's your time. Live your life. Have fun, get angry. But LIVE your life the good and the bad. If you went at everyday full out it would soon wear you out and become ho-hum. We need the highs and we need the lows to remind us that we are human.

Unknown said...

Wonderful post JennyMac....loved reading this.

What terrible sadness for your friend, absolutely awful.

Unknown said...

what a wonderful, thought-provoking post!

injaynesworld said...

This is both beautiful and thought-provoking. Of course, you're right. We wake up and never imagine it could be our last day. The older I get, the more I realize how numbered my days truly are. More than anything I want to clean up any grievances or misunderstandings. I want my loved ones to know they are loved. Thanks for writing this honest and powerful piece. My thoughts are with your friend and his family.

Chain Stitch Crochet said...

Great post!

So sorry for your friend's loss. It's hard to lose one but 3...that has to be really hard.

Unfortunately we run day to day taking everything for granted. Even when you experience loss and it sticks with you for a while, you get back into the ruts and routines and forget, per se. I've done it myself. Human nature takes over as we groomed that way.

Anonymous said...

We can live with an attitude of gratitude and not take anything for granted. Just had a friend of mine suffer a spinal cord injury and she is facing life without walking again. I blogged about it if you care to read my post. I feel for your friend having to go through this. It shakes up your whole world and makes you pause for a moment to really consider life and what you have. Peace.

ipenka said...

What a deep post. This really made me think as my list unfortunately isn't as long as I'd like it to be.

Good food for thought today...

MommyLisa said...

Its amazing what we don't do because we are too tired, too busy, too lazy to bother. Thanks for the reminder.

The Constant Complainer said...

This was a very thought-provoking post. My thoughts go out to your friend as well, on the lost of his family members along with those still recovering.

I've often thought about this (what were people thinking before they died). And it's really a complex thought to get into. Like the stories you hear on the news about the family on their home from the amusement park who get killed in a car crash. Like was echoed above, they were thinking about the next day or the day after that.

It's a scary thought that you could wake up and that would end up being your last day. So I'm all for the "pay it forward" philosophy. Not like the stupid movie, where people were buying cars for each other and all. But some of the things like you and your friend on Facebook mentioned.

I say live a moral and ethical life, and try to make a difference. And pay it forward as best you can. Not too long ago, I gave the cashier at a Burger King $20 and told her to use it towards the meals of as many people behind me as possible. I've also purchased people's orders at the grocery store. Hey, it makes a difference!

Love life and live life.

Great post! Have a nice weekend!

Lori Peterson said...

I am so sorry for your friend and his loss. And you are right, we don't think enough about making the most of our days. My husband and I never go to bed angry and we always say I love you when one of us is leaving or we are talking on the phone and saying goodbye. I love the idea of doing little random bits of kindness to brighten up a stranger's day!

Sultan said...

Fine post.

Anonymous said...

Really beautiful piece! A friend who knew I needed these words today forwarded to me, and I am grateful.