So as I mentioned a bit ago, there have been a few deaths. Some were closer to me than others and I have been given to pause. Meditation has helped me do that, but the reality of the situation prompted some soul searching.
It’s tough when your first friend dies, a contemporary, someone whose children are the same age as your kids. The hardest thing was to look and realize how short life really is; he was only 49, heart attack. Not even half a century. If that doesn’t stop you in your tracks, well, I just don’t know what would.
Remember when you were 8 and you would think 18 was all grown up? You would imagine all the cool things you could do… Drive a car! Get a job! Go to the movies by yourself! Seriously, 18 looked so great and so old. But, geez, 49, that’s just so young.
Well, that just stopped me in my tracks. I said to my husband, “If you don’t go to bed at night thinking today was a good day, something needs to change.” He, of course, agreed with me. He is very wise and knows that I am very wise and he just agrees with me all the time. It really works for us.
We went to the funeral, we talked with our friends. We agreed, life is short. Make sure you say the important things. Hug all your people whenever you can.
Then a week later, another friend died. He was 54. Died while he was skiing, also heart attack.
Seriously, at this point, I did not just stop in my tracks. I got off the train. In fact, I stormed off. No way am I stopping on these tracks again! I want off this route! NOW!
No matter the circumstances, losing two friends so close to each other is very hard. I imagine when we are old it may happen more often. But there it is, right there. When we are old.
I don’t feel old. I dance, I run, I can still do a full split for Heaven’s sake! I am not old. My friends are not old.
But guess what? We are not in control of this decision. My kids asked me a lot about why our friends died. Tentative questions and detailed questions. One of them even asked if it meant we would die too. I had to tell her that, “Yes, we will die. But,” I went on to reassure her, “Probably not today. Probably not for a long time.” Probably.
What I didn’t say is life is short.
While I watched the slide show of my friend’s life at his wake, the photos of him smiling with his wife in Hawaii, scuba diving in the richest, bluest waters I have ever seen, and in Red Square, Russia looking simply ecstatic, I thought to myself, he lived. He lived every minute so well. I was so happy for him.
Now stay with me.
I was on the treadmill at the gym not long after. I was listening to Pandora, really running, in the zone and suddenly there were words filling my ears, and next thing I knew tears filling my eyes as images from that slideshow ran through my head, images of my friend living his life so very well. The song was I Lived by OneRepublic. Maybe I’ve heard this song before but honestly I never listened.
I’d like to tell you I got off that treadmill and drove to Mt. Everest and climbed it, that I quit my job to join Doctors Without Borders or I called a my first love and healed a broken heart. But I didn’t. I did what I always have done, the right thing. I stayed on the treadmill, had a great run as a matter of fact. I went home, got my kids off to school and then went to work (though I did call my first love on my way into work and checked in on what his day looked like and when he would be home that night.) I also created a bucket list that day.
I’ve never had one before. Not officially. I have always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon and I’ve had that in my head for quite some time. But now, it is on my Official Bucket List. The Grand Canyon sat on the list for a while by itself. Maybe a week or two. I wracked my brain a bit.
What are the things I want to do before I die? Seems like a million things should pop into my head. The Grand Canyon. Yup. Just that. I mean I have kids. I married my best friend, my first love. What else is there? I learned to play tennis last summer. For real, I even know how to keep score now. But what in the world do I want to do before I kick the bucket?
Mostly, I want to be in every single day, “To own every second, that this world could give.” Thank you OneRepublic.
I have added more things to my Official Bucket List. Not just going places, though there are several of those now… Statue of Liberty… The Northern Lights. I also want to learn some new things… How to drive a standard… play golf. But mostly I want to look back and know I lived.