Perhaps it was because I was raised by a fire fighter and an emergency room nurse, maybe it was because they have both seen the worst case scenarios and didn’t hide them from us…. Or maybe it was just that I have always felt like an old person trapped in a younger body. It could be because our tiny little Minnesotan town faced tragedy far too many times when I was young or simply that I have always been acutely aware of what living looks like. Regardless of the why, I have always been entirely aware that nothing is ever promised to us: not our next minute, our next breath, or ten years from now. My parents never hid death from us, they invited us into it, to experience the magnitude but also to appreciate the fact that waking up every morning is a blessing.
I feel like we, as human beings, like to imagine we will live forever. That things like cancer or car accidents aren’t a part of our lives, they just happen to other people. When I was a little girl, I would have my mom wake me up every single morning (no matter what time she left) so that I could stand in the window and send her off. I always wanted to hug her goodbye, to wave as her brake lights wound down the driveway, and as she drove off I would blow a kiss and say, “I love you, God protect you.” I never once missed a chance to send her off with a wave and a blessing – even when I was just a tiny little girl.
We’ve all heard those country songs that tell us to “live like we are dying,” but the truth is, we don’t. Until we kiss tragedy smack dab on the lips, we cloak ourselves with confidence that tomorrow, next week, twenty years from now are ours to claim. We put things off, keep adding to our bucket list, sleep in instead of going to church on Sunday, and leave far too many statements that start with “if” and end with “then.” I feel like lately I’ve stopped pretending, I’ve really just grabbed life with my two hands and have embraced it fully, knowing what fate looks like in life but still standing at that window waving with confidence knowing that each day is sent off with a smile and with hope.
How can you spend five extra minutes in bed memorizing every feature of your loved one? How can you document your life in a meaningful way, one that will transcend your life and be treasured by next generations? How can you inspire others to get out and actually live, not just punch a time clock and collect a pay check? How can you make your life mean something? Nothing is promised my friends, but I do promise if you’re reading this, you’ve been given and opportunity to live a little harder and I pray that you’ll wake up to that and cling to it today.