Inspired by an amazing woman, Susan Spencer-Wendel and the story I saw on the Today’s Show this morning, I now have a plan! You’d think I would have broken down and cried the way I’m sure most people do when they see Susan’s story, and I DID, a little. After the tears, I came up with the start of a plan that I’ll share with you later.
In case you don’t want to read the links, Susan is LIVING with ALS. She’s 44, I believe. She is a mother and a wife but she also had a busy career as an award winning court reporter. She was kind enough to share her story in a book, Until I Say Goodbye. In a nutshell, Susan designated a year to providing amazing experiences for her entire family (extended family included) and her friends. She squeezed a lifetime of living into such a short time just so that her family can always have these fantastic memories to draw from, even when she leaves them. Oh and she topped it off with writing to each and every one of them, love letters and a recording of her voice singing the same lullaby that she always sang to her children. And of COURSE she wrote her memoirs and shared them in her book. Susan is still living and honestly, she may live for a while as ALS can linger for so long. I have a friend who’s been battling this demonic disease for YEARS now, and it’s SO hard for him to be trapped inside his body.
I know many of you aren’t battling a debilitating disease that will claim your life one day soon. The reality is though, that NONE of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I AM, as you know by now, living with a disease that should have claimed my life a few years ago. I’m faced with knowing that every year that goes by, could be my last year. I’ve talked before about the expiration date that they keep trying to place on me and how I won’t cooperate. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been where Susan is now. I know that when my moment is finally up, it will come quickly, as I never really have a lot of warning when I start to bleed. I’ve been lucky so far and have been able to make it to the phone to call 911 after waking up on the floor, not knowing how I got there. Internal bleeding is just that way. It can happen SO quickly. In July, it was almost too late and I needed 8 units of blood that night and several more units the next day. Most people don;t recover after losing so much blood that quickly. The thing I remember most though is how I really didn’t have a lot of warning and how I thought everything was okay. Just like any other day. Again, not a lot of warning.
I’ve already lived many memories with my family. I’ve been on amazing journeys (on a smaller scale than Susan) in order to share with them some good times. I’ll share with you in a second or two. Right now, I just want you to know that ALL of you, too, should live this way. You know the cliche’ and the song by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying”, right? A very good friend of mine, Brigitte took me on a little trip one day and on the way home, she popped in this CD and made me listen to the words. She couldn’t have known that this memory would change my life and it provided the “beginning” that I needed. I know you might think this is morbid but believe me, being given a death sentence is a gift. Being faced with a terminal condition makes you know that time is going to end and you need to pack a lifetime of living into a few moments. EVERYONE should be so lucky. Sadly, most of you won’t know this way of life. Most people don’t ever get the memo that their days are few. Look folks, ALL of us are going to die. There’s your memo! Now you have NO excuse because I just handed you all the same memo I received. Now, what are YOU going to do with it?
Take a second to look at that baby girl beside you. What if she was not going to see her mother (you) after today? Now what are you going to do to make sure she remembers you? Look at your little boy. He might not see you tomorrow either and you’re busy right now, cleaning. Maybe you’re on the phone and maybe you just want to be left alone BUT your little man wants you to take him outside to ride his bicycle with training wheels. Are you going to do it? Or are you going to STAY too busy to pay attention to him? It’s your choice but remember, today is YOUR last day. How about that husband of yours who is always trying to get your attention. Are you going to have another headache tonight or do you think you can try and remember how it was when you first met and you were giddy with love and emotion? You know, BEFORE the kids kept coming and so did the bills and the clutter. Look, I know what it’s like and I’ve got to be honest and tell you that I STILL take many things for granted. It’s EXTREMELY hard to live in the moment and to “Live Like You Were Dying”. It takes effort and we’re lazy, most of us. DON’T let life get in the way. You can do this, I promise!
Just TRY and do SOMETHING a little different. I really feel like one of the jobs I’ve been given (because I feel ALL of us are born to do a job) with the life I lead, is to show people that life is precious and a gift. I want to show YOU too. You don’t really NEED an official memo but if you WANT a reminder of how precious and short life is, I’m here to give it to you.
Remember… today COULD be your last day. Love, have fun, pray and most of all count ALL your blessings. Because even that little kid with the snotty nose who’s coughing germs on you is one of your blessings. That cluttered and dusty house with the sink full of dishes? Yeah, that’s a blessing too. MANY people are homeless. The pain you feel when you get out of bed in the morning? At least you know you’re alive and can still move those limbs of yours. Many people, like Susan and my friend Kent, are trapped in their bodies and THEY still trudge on and find meaning in their journey. The bank is threatening to foreclose? You still have a little time to pray and figure out what you’re going to do. NOTHING is THAT desperate. Because after all, you still have a moment.
Much love to ALL of you and may God bless each and every one of you!