Live Like You Were To Die Tomorrow
We Have No Way Of Knowing When Our Time Is Up
"It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth...and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had." Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Quotation
Unexpected death can strike at any time, yet most of us go through life as though we think we'll live forever. Out of ignorance, frustration and anger, we may say harsh words to our loved ones, cutting words that may come back to haunt us for the rest of our lives.
In my college days, I knew a young man named Harry, who had a bitter fight with his father. I can no longer remember what the fight was about but I still remember what Harry told his Dad at the end of it--"I hate you, and wish you were dead." Tragically, his Dad died of a heart attack several hours later and Harry's grief was inconsolable. He learned a hard lesson that night-- sometimes life doesn't give us a chance to make amends to those we've hurt, and we're left carrying a heavy load of regret, shame and remorse until we find some way to forgive ourselves.
The Power and Joy of Unconditional Love
Recently, my dear friend, Joyce, died unexpectedly but due to her loving, gentle nature and God's grace, the content of our final conversation turned out to be a source of great comfort to me. We'd spent the last hour of our prescious time together talking about life, death, fear and acceptance versus love and faith. You see, we'd both lost other friends a year earlier and had watched them suffer through repeated chemo, radiation and surgery treatments before losing their battle with cancer. As Joyce and I were about to hang up she confided that, "I have no fear of dying, only fear of suffering and pain. I'm ready to go home to God whenever he calls me, but I've prayed that when my time is up, he'll take me quickly."
I told her that I understood what she meant but that I wasn't ready to let her go and hoped God wouldn't take her for a long time. We ended the conversation as we always did, by saying, "I love you," but perhaps due to the nature of our talk that day, those 3 little words seemed sweeter and more meaningful than ever.
Pass The Love Forward
Joyce's daughter, Mary, spoke at her funeral and reminded everyone what we already knew--that her mother had practiced unconditional love wherever she went. Mary asked that we pass the love forward as a tribute to her Mom and there wasn't a dry eye in the parlor.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Live as though you were to die tomorrow." and, "Be the change you want to see in the world. " They were wise words, and my dear friend, Joyce, embodied them by mastering the art of spreading unconditional love. If each person that was touched by her love now passes it forward (including you, dear reader) the world will indeed be changed into a brighter place.