Monday, February 6, 2012

Live Like You Were Dying

We have, unfortunately, reached that stage of life where things begin to fall apart around us whether we like it or not. While that may be a normal part of living and just the way things are, that doesn't mean it is easy.

We lost a dear friend yesterday to cancer.

He fought so hard for so long, but his body finally gave out beneath him even while his will was pushing forward.  And through it all?  Every time I saw him, he managed a smile and a laugh about something.

His courage in the face of what he was dealing with was monumental. 

Because he was a man who lived his life flat out, who found joy in the every day?  Even in the pain of this loss, there is a lot to celebrate about how he well and truly lived his life every single day.  And there are lessons to be learned.

As I sit here this morning, that means more than I can express.  Because losing this man altogether would be too painful for those of us who knew and loved him.   I know that is true for my husband, who will miss him and his infectious laughter and random book discussions terribly.

So perhaps we can carry a little of him around with us in our own day to day if we learn from his example:

1.  Be a true friend, not just a surface one.

2.  Find something that makes you laugh out loud every day.

3.  Even better, share that laugh with your friends, because they could probably use it, too.

4.  Life was meant to be enjoyed not eked out around the margins.  So find joy in what you do and who you do it with -- enjoy the heck out of your journey every single day.

5.  Take a few risks.  Color outside the lines once in a while.  If nothing else, you'll get some great stories from taking a chance or two.

6.  Loyalty is never over-rated.

7.  He truly understood that children are the most important things in all of our lives -- and loved it when we brought our young daughter over to the office to run in the hallway and giggle when she was younger because it reminded him of his own daughter and how much she loved to run at that same age.  So take a moment today to stop, soak in the laughter of a child and really feel the joy of their play.  Remember what that felt like when you were small.  And hold that feeling close.

8.  Because that joy and playfulness inside you is waiting to be rekindled, too.  Go out today and find it.

I find myself listening to Tim McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying way too much of late, in the wake of far too many losses.  And I also catch myself wondering "what are you waiting for" about a few dreams I haven't dared to push to the fore.

The lesson I learn this morning from this loss?  Don't wait until it is too late.  I cannot think of a better legacy for our friend than for others to find the courage to fully live their lives.  So start today.

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