Everytime I hear news about the passing of another friend, I am reminded about how fragile life really is. I think I have so much time but the truth is I waste so much of it on silly nonsense. Like everyone else, I allow myself to become engulfed by the things that I have no control over and those things take away what is most precious and valuable, my time. On a day like today when the sobering truth is staring me in the face, I don’t care about who the next president will be or what latest news headline is causing dissent among my people. I care about those moments I feel energized and alive. I think about those times I take a good, deep breath and am grateful for exactly where I am. I can’t help and wonder if many of us get this thing called life so very wrong. We get one dance around the sun. I don’t want to race around. I want to take it slowly and enjoy every step and person I meet along the way. The problem is most are so busy rushing around they don’t even see me there. Today, throw your hands in the air and shake your hips until the smile is plastered on your face. Have fun, be in the moment and dance.
A girl I went to school with lost her battle to cancer today. One thing I know for sure is you can learn so much about living from someone who knows she’s dying. There is no time for the nonsense. No time to stress over a kid getting a bad grade. No time to stress over an argument, your favorite sports team losing a game. It is so insignificant, all of it. The things we get ourselves crazy over seem so unimportant on a day like this. So how can we do it? How can we remember that everyday is a gift and tomorrow is never promised? The truth is we are all dying. Every day we do live is also one less we have left to live. Find a way to live like today is your last day. We don’t have time to sweat the small stuff. It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. How will you choose to live today? What changes do you need to make?
The way I see it, there are two major differences when it comes to people. The truth is. each and everyone of us has a backpack of problems. Some of us carry that backpack quietly on our own back and the rest of us expect someone else to carry the load. Some dump it out all at once and others disperse it among everyone around.
I have been following a story on Facebook for quite some time now. It is about the life, the tremendous amount of strength of a special person who is fighting a battle against pancreatic cancer. She is the sister of someone I went to school with many years ago. This girl was born with boxing gloves. She has setback after setback and still she fights. When doctors encourage her to give up the battle, she says no way. It doesn’t matter if she loses her hair, her physical strength, the hope from others, this girl gives it all she’s got. She wants to live for herself, her husband, her children and the thousands of people praying for her every day. She doesn’t talk about the pain. She brushes it off. She doesn’t complain that the number of days in a hospital, far outweigh the ones she spends at home. She talks of the things she is grateful for. She doesn’t focus on the parts of her body that are slowly shutting down, she talks about how grateful she is for the things that are coming together. Her friends and total strangers are contributing to a fund to help them pay the bills. People are coming from all over to support their family because they are so drawn to her optimism, fight and courage. She worries that the people worried about her, worry too much. I know how awful she must feel every single day. Not one day arrives that she wakes up and feels good. Not one, ever. She is and should be an example to all of us. Almost everyday, every week something else goes wrong. Many of us would be so discouraged, so defeated, but this girl straps on her backpack and she carries it forward one step at a time by herself with the support of others cheering her on. And so she finds the strength to keep on going and going when most of us would make the decision to quit.
I think about her everyday I start the process of complaining. This hurts, that hurts, I have a headache. I have shin splints. Oh well. Life could be worse. Will I talk about that with everyone I encounter in a day or will I talk about my blessings and how lucky I am that I am here to talk at all today? What will YOU talk about? It matters. Every word, every ounce of energy you send off affects how someone else you encounter will feel. Remember that. It is so important.
Some people carry a snack size bag of crap. Other people carry a whole garbage bag full. The garbage bag people act like they have a tiny bag and the snack size ones talk themselves and others into thinking they have the garbage bag. That is the difference. Which kind of person are you? Put it in your backpack and keep moving. Be grateful for the good days and stop giving so much energy and thought to the stuff that is not good. Thoughts become things. What things will your thoughts bring?
Sometimes, the right lesson comes at just the right time. Last night I walked upstairs and was furious as I looked down on the floor and noticed not one, but several gatorade stains all over the carpet. I was still pretty angry today as my son tried to make conversation while digging through his Easter basket. I couldn’t help but think he didn’t even deserve one on this Easter Day. I was already feeling sad that we would be away from family for another holiday while my husband was stuck at work.
Then, it happened. That lesson that would open up my heart and help the anger fade away. While we we’re praying in church this morning for parish intentions, the mention of a little boys passing just about brought me to my knees. As the tears filled my eyes I couldn’t help but think although carpets are replaceable, a four year old boys life that has been ripped away by cancer is not. What a powerful lesson that immediately forced me to see last night and this mornings events in a new perspective.
This little boy was diagnosed over a year ago and every week the priest would mention him during intentions. Although I never knew him, every night I would include him in my prayers. I guess hearing of his passing was bitter sweet for me. I can’t help but shed a tear for the pain of those loved ones that will have to go on without him. But now, his pain and suffering has come to an end. I can’t help but picture him smiling above us. Fly little guy, fly. And today, I will count my blessings…