Live every day like it’s your last. Have we heard this enough yet? What has to happen in each of our lives for it to sink it. Some people can watch the struggles of others and understand this mantra. Others have to experience the pain and loss themselves.
A couple years back an upstanding man in my church was struggling with cancer. The church rallied around the family in the last months, weeks, and hours of his life. At the time I was a youth group leader and it was the Christmas season. A group of the leaders, youth and their families went to his house to raise his spirits. We stood outside with candles and and the lyrics to Christmas carols and began to sing.
His wife opened the second floor window to the bedroom where he was resting in a hospital bed. As he listened to the notes being raised up to his window his wife said he had such a glow and a smile on his face. Never underestimate the power of music and its ability to lift spirits. I don’t exactly remember what was going through my mind at the time, thinking about the birth of Christ and impending death of such a great man. Christmas Carols never meant so much to me as they did that night.
Towards the end of our singing, he managed to make his way to the window with the help of his wife and best friend. I don’t remember if he said anything, but it doesn’t matter. The thank you he shared in simply standing and taking the energy to wave and smile was enough. His struggle with cancer and eventual death made people in my church wake up and live again. He was a middle-aged, seemingly healthy man that until that diagnosis lived like anyone else.
A mentor of mine said this man’s passing made him realize what matters. This man took these tragic circumstances and decided to live with no regrets – he decided to love his wife more deeply, encourage his children more passionately and leave a definitive mark on this world. He has done two iron man races and continues his work overseas in orphanages and homes – he is such an inspiration!
However, death and the thought of death shouldn’t cripple the life we have now. We shouldn’t live like every day is our last if that means living with fear and anxiety for the unseen downfall of life as we know it. Anxiety, fear and doubt only cripple.
Check out Lee Ann Womack’s song – Story of My Life. It is a companion song to I Hope You Dance. It is on her most recent album, Call Me Crazy. Her lyrics are a good ending to my thoughts today:
I don’t ever want to be afraid,
to walk the world in my own way.
I don’t want to ever lose my faith
in all the little simple things.
And even if it all falls down,
I know it’ll come back around.
I never wanna not believe,
that someone has a plan for me.
Live every moment as if, its the last one.
Find all the love deep within, give it away.
Be thankful for all that I’ve been given.
From now on, this is how I want to write,
The story of my life.
I wanna turn the pages of the past.
Take what I’ve learned and then never look back.
Still I never want to get too far ahead,
or worry about how the story ends.