What if these were the last words I could ever write?

I’ve been focusing a lot on what I intend to achieve this year, the things I will do, the things I will write. I have so much planned.

And yet….I should know by now exactly how life can stop in an instant, how everything changes with a single sentence, a diagnosis, a decision, or a terrible accident. Unless we choose our method and moment of death, we simply do not know when it will come for us. And you would think that would make us more mindful of how we use the life we have, because it’s the only one we get. 

But we aren’t, at least, not with any consistency. Something terrible happens–remember 9/11? when we all reached out to one another and said all that should be said, and hugged, and meant it? and we’ll be closer, kinder, for awhile. And then, there’s the conundrum, life itself gets in the way of living mindfully. We’re too busy. It’s too hot. Too cold. I’m too tired. We’ll do that/go there/see her tomorrow.

And sometimes tomorrow doesn’t come. 

I learned tonight that a beautiful and courageous woman is losing her fierce battle, that she will be leaving everyone who loves her, including a husband and three young children far sooner than anyone could ever wish. You can be certain she is not wasting a moment, nor a word, that she is not leaving anything undone, unspoken, unshared.

What would I say if I knew my life was very rapidly going to end?

I look at my husband and know that though we have already had thirty years together….I want more. I would still feel that way if we had thirty, no, ninety years more. He is more handsome and appealing to me with every passing year; his wit and intelligence match his good looks, and matter just as much. He has brought me so much joy, so much laughter. He has opened doors that I never even knew existed, encouraged me to step through and experience all that lay ahead. He gave me theatre, with all its richness and texture, and he gave me art, and my world of culture expanded far beyond my own study of music. He values books as much as I do. He was the first one to say that I was a writer, and one day I would write a book; the first one to actually say he believed in me and what I could achieve. Maybe others before him had thought I could do things, but my husband said so, and made me believe when I had not.

And he is the father of my only child. As long as I live I will remember the way he looked at her, held her, touched her for the first time. 

My daughter. My beautiful, beautiful girl. I have had you for nearly fifteen years, and I want more. For all that I have loved in watching baby milestones and growth, to go from the Baby to the Kid and now to the Teen…my heart overflows. I want to see your wonderful intelligence and talents turn into whatever it is you’re meant to be and do, and you’ve had so many ideas already! I want to see you achieve every dream you have, and just soar, because, as so many moms believe, I don’t think there’s anything you can’t do. And you do so many things with so much more courage than I have ever had. I am so proud of you. I love you so much.

I think of my parents, and my siblings; I think of all the things I would say, should say, things that go so much deeper than apologizing wherever I should and saying I love you–because I do–a lot more often. I know that I want to be a better daughter, a better sister. 

I think of my loved ones gone ahead, and know that I want to be certain I’ll see them again, and know that there are words I need to say to my Lord, the One who loves me more than anyone. And of course He already knows them….but I need to say them, act on them, live them.

And I realize in all cases, these are things I should have been saying and doing all along. 

When you know you are moving, you clean your house. You throw away the trash, and carefully sort and pack what needs to move into the next phase of your life. You walk through each room one more time, making sure you’ve left nothing undone. And then you take a deep breath, close that door, and walk through a new door into another room in another house.

How does this differ from leaving my earthly body and moving into my Heavenly home? 

It doesn’t. Or, at least, it shouldn’t. 

So, as Linda would have us do….I’m putting out the trash. Sorting through all that is still needed here, even if I am not the one who needs it (and oh, let me be mindful of that, aware of how much I have that could do others more good.) Making sure that my house is clean and inviting, for just as I wouldn’t want my loved ones to have to deal with boxes of junk and old papers, neither would I want them to know only what they wish I had been for them. 

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