Life: Don’t Wait To Find Out Just How Short It Really Can Be

June 9, 2009

I watched my 12-year-old nephew hold on to the handle on the left front side of the casket, and that’s when I couldn’t hold it any longer. The tears flowed hot and fast as I thought about how different the lives of he and my teen niece would be without their mother.

Today my former sister-in-law was buried, at age 35. Those words I just used to describe my relationship to her don’t tell the whole story–she was like a sister, and treated me and my family so well after the complicated and unpleasant divorce between her and my older brother.

It’s been a long time since someone that close to me crossed over into eternity–I had forgotten the pain, and the shock. And this was a shock. A healthy woman succumbs to a blood clot after a day at the water park with her son. It was crazy; it just didn’t make sense.

People day every day–some old and sick, and some young and healthy. Now I’m a firm believer in what the Bible says, and trust in God as a good God, not a good who “takes” people away from their families and lives while in their prime. At the same time, the utter fragility and temporary nature of life was made so very clear. Our lives are like vapors–although we make big plans and have dreams that line the path to our destinies, our mortality is yet real.

There is little time for foolishness. We must make the most of the moments of our lives. First, why did God create us? Why are we here? The phenomenal success of The Purpose Driven Life book, study helps, and now the magazine have helped people answer that question. The next question: what relationships must I preserve? Which mean the most? I am so aware of the idiocy of taking for granted  those I love. Why do I let three weeks go by without calling my sister? Three months go by without writing my brother who’s incarcerated? Why not call my parents, who are in their sixties, and let them know I love them on a daily basis? I don’t have to talk for an hour–just two and a half minutes are enough to let them know they’re on my mind.

I can’t just assume my friends from college, who are now 500 to 1,000 miles away, will always be there for me to catch up with “some time.” What’s the big deal with sending an email, or Facebook message? Ok; I know the argument that these modes of communication are impersonal. But at least it’s contact!

Loving people in life is one of the things that make life worth it. And it should not be about waiting for people to love us, forgive us, or reach out to us first. Why can’t we be the first to do it? People talk about “making peace” with a dead loved one–how does a person make peace with the dead? The damage is done and the person is gone. Our peace is made in the land of the living. Forgiveness can’t be given beyond the grave.

Invest the time, the effort, the work that go into maintaining good relationships, improving stagnant relationships and doing your part to reconcile the broken ones. Just do it, because life is too short.

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