Imagine how our lives would change if we spent every day living like we were dying. Would we savor each moment a little more? Would we feel more grateful for the blessings we enjoy? Would we be a little kinder? Would we hold onto grudges?
For many years, I have served the elderly and dying, and they have taught me so much. They have taught me not to sweat the small stuff, to celebrate the good people in our lives, and to not take myself so seriously. They have taught me how to love.
When I visit my elderly friends, they hug me and kiss my cheeks. They think I am beautiful. They belief I am smart and amazing. Why? Because they recognize the value of a human soul. They have discovered that each one of us is a child of God, a miracle.
Although my husband’s father, Bill, was an angry and abusive parent, my husband, Ken, forgave his dad completely before his dad showed remorse. Living with fear, my father-in-law beat Ken mercilessly as a child and youth. On Bill’s death bed, he asked Ken for forgiveness. Ken replied, “Dad, there is nothing to forgive.”
Even before my terminally-ill father-in-law recognized his mistakes and feel deep remorse for his parenting errors, Ken let go of the pain and sorrow of his childhood and truly loved his dad. Ken is a happy, peaceful man because he forgives, and Bill died peacefully because he knew he was loved. Truly, with love all things are possible, even forgiveness.
I love Tim McGraw song, “Live Like You Were Dying.” In the lyrics a man tells how he lived differently after he learned he might be dying. He says:
I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying.
My dad died when I was 19, but he had two precious years to enjoy each day before cancer ended his mortal life. He savored every crocus that bloomed in the spring. He listened deeply to everything I said. He told me he loved me often. And I listened to him more intently and treasured the time I spent with him.
I learned a lot from that experience.
This week try to see life through the eyes of those whose days on earth are limited. (And, in truth, aren’t all of us dying—some just a little sooner that others?) Call a friend. Visit your sister, your mother, your neighbor. Send a card. You will experience greater peace if you do.
As we savor each precious moment of life and the privilege of being with those we love, life is richer and sweeter. We find that peace was inside our hearts all along, waiting to be discovered.
© Carol Brown