Very little makes you think and re-evaluate your life more than death. The ending of another's life makes you take stock of your own. Maybe it's the realization that everything that person said they'd do tomorrow won't ever get done. Perhaps the thought of no more Christmas mornings or birthday parties is what hits you in the heart. It could be as simple as knowing you'll never hug their neck again this side of Heaven.
Whatever the reason, death, even of someone not particularly close to us, makes us think. Are doing what we need to do? What things clutter my life that add little value? What kind of legacy am I leaving behind if I'm the one that up and dies tomorrow?
There's been a lot of death on the fringes of my life in the last two weeks. I've been blessed that those closest to me are in good health and still with me, but for many that I care about, death has touched their lives in penetrating ways.
The biggest thing about all these deaths is that none of them were expected. A car accident. A heart attack. Sudden kidney failure. Some within days, others within hours, another almost instantaneously. Gone from this world.
I must say it's led to a lot of introspection. There's a few things I've decided.
1. My time needs to be better spent.
I waste a lot of time. I am my own worst saboteur. I could create a lot more value by allocating my time better. One thing I'm doing is cutting this blog down to once a week. I have a limited amount of blogging time a week. While I love my readers, there's only about ten of you. My other blog has about 200. My limited time is better spent over there, for now.
Another thing I'm doing is reinstating my daily routine. I've let it slip with the doctor's visits and such that we've had in my family lately. It's time to bring it back. Get things under control so I can maintain them and do the special things I really want to do.
2. Tomorrow isn't a guarantee.
I know this. It isn't a new concept, but it's one I forget all too often. I want my book published. I want a writing career. But I've tarried in taking the next steps because I'm afraid - Both of rejection and success. I'm not guaranteed tomorrow. If there are things I want to accomplish, they have to be done today.
That includes things with my family. If I want to be the one to teach my daughter how to handle her rioting emotions or bake a cake or count money, I have to do it today. I may not have tomorrow with her.
3. My legacy is in jeopardy.
I've joked about my lack of housecleaning skills before. But the truth is, if I were to die today, the first thing a lot of people would notice is the wreck of my house when they came to visit my family and I would be remembered for the absence of that skill. I don't want that to be my legacy.
Too often the last thing my daughter heard before she went to school was me urging her to hurry and get her stuff together. What if she didn't come home? Is that the last of my words I want in her head? I'm taking time now when I part from my family - whether they are leaving or I am - the last words we say are caring and uplifting. I love you. God loves you. Things like that.
Time is short. Sadly, in a few months, I'll probably forget these lessons. But today I'm writing them down in an attempt to make them stick. Because one day death will hit a little closer. And then it will be too late to learn them.