October 1, 2018
Last week a young teenage girl collapsed while running a cross country meet in Charlotte. She later died of a cardiac arrest. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of this young lady. There is no easy way to discuss this topic. Death is finite and simultaneously infinitely painful for the survivors. Everyone learns in the moment how to deal with death. There is no on the job training. We are not born ready to accept this reality. It is just thrust upon us.
While I deal with illness and death on a more frequent basis than the average American, hearing of this event hit a stronger cord with me as my daughter is running cross country this year and was supposed to be at that event.
I sat in the moment of this story and thought about what I would want for myself and my family in this moment if that had happened to me today. What would I have wanted for my friends and family if at age 17 this event happened to me? What words would I have said to my parents from above if I could? What feelings would I have had if this was a close friend? As these thoughts swirled in the sadness of her loss, I kept coming back to one idea: LIVE LIFE EVERYDAY AS IF IT COULD BE YOUR LAST WITH HONOR AND RESPECT FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
I think that if we hold true to this ideal, it would soften the blow and would give a premature death the best farewell.
I think of a few quotes here:
"Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something while you live and it is in your power."
"Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence."
"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."
"Unbeing dead isn't being alive."
Or from an excellent movie, The Dead Poets Society
"Neil Perry: I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived."
"John Keating: Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."
I suspect that all of you reading this right now are contemplating your end or that of your loved ones. Sit in this moment deeply right now. Do not run away from the sorrow. Let it hit you deep and find your will to live better and happier knowing this truth. This is the place from which you can lead your children in happiness every single day. I repeat, every single day!
Do not let the petty trivialities of the day spoil your life or that of your children or friends for not even one day. Own your God given gift of life every moment.
I had my son read this piece and asked for his commentary. He said, " Dad, I would add what you tell me, it is up to you to choose to be happy."
I am still thinking of this young lady that I did not know. Did she have a great life? Was she happy to the end?
Somewhere deep in my bones, no, my soul, I believe that she was beautiful inside and lived well.
That is how I will remember her.
God bless you on your journey,