Over this holiday season two friends died, both of heart attacks. No warning. The spouses were in shock. I was in shock.
I was reminded how people react differently to illness and death, as my family did when my mother died when I was a small child, and when my father chose to die, living in my home in Maine. Some of us hide and avoid; others open to the opportunity to reach into our essence and discover our strengths and ability to forgive and love. We learn early on we aren’t masters of our lives; change is the reality of our world. We try to control our choices, but life easily gets in the way of our plans. These lessons teach us to live each day in the present – as tomorrow may not be another day! The reality of our mortality should hopefully make life more precious, for ourselves and our relationships with others.
In 2003 I found the following letter on the internet, written by an unknown 83-year-old woman to a friend, and shared it with others. I understand there are several versions of this letter online. But this one touched my soul, gave me hope at a time when I was feeling despondent, and now comforts me with my most recent losses. I hope it does the same for you.
I’m reading more and dusting less.
I’m sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden.
I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time working.
Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure.
I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.
I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom.
I wear my good blazer to the market. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries.
I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank.
“Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.
I’m not sure what others would’ve done had they known they wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted. I think they would have called family members and a few close friends. They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or for whatever their favorite food was. I’m guessing; I’ll never know.
It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry, that I didn’t tell my husband and parents often enough how much I truly love them.
I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.
And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift.
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here, we might as well dance.