“everything can change.” So sang Don Henley in 1989. Little did we know then how everything could change on one day in September, 2001. And I bet all of us know someone whose life changed in the blink of an eye. One minute you are cruising along, taking the little things for granted, and then out of nowhere, a car accident, or a terminal diagnosis, or the death of a loved one. We all know this can happen; people say “I could get hit by a bus tomorrow” as a reminder to not sweat the small stuff. But how many of us have our ducks in a row?
By no means am I suggesting a fatalistic attitude. Like it could all end tomorrow, so let’s throw caution to the wind and walk on the wild side! But I AM asking, what if it did? Would you be ready? What would be your regrets? The sad part of my job is hearing stories of families struck by tragedy. The lists of coulda, woulda, shouldas. If only I hadn’t yelled. If only we had bought life insurance. If only I had spent more time with my family instead of working so much. (Isn’t there an old country song that says no one has a tombstone that says ‘I wish I would have worked more’?) But from these stories I have learned an important lesson. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Get your paperwork in order, tell people what your wishes are, and live each day to the fullest.
Talking about what should happen if you are gone suddenly is not morbid, it is responsible. When people are grieving the last thing they need is to be stressed by the details of financial burden. And death can certainly be expensive. But also, does someone know your online billing passwords? Can someone find your loved ones through your cell phone if you are unconscious? Do your children know your greatest wishes for them? Do you have unresolved business, grudges that someone assumes you still hold but really you don’t, you’re just too stubborn to approach them?
Tim McGraw sang Live Like You Are Dying. Why DON’T we? Why don’t we eat dessert first? Why do we save up six weeks of vacation and never take off work? Why do we wait until we are retired to travel and then feel too tired to do it? Who in your daily life do you take for granted, or have something unsaid that you would regret if you never got the chance to say it? Why don’t we sit with the people we love and eat chocolate chip pancakes for dinner and reminisce about the good ole days? Give me one good reason! Because you won’t be able to later, when the opportunity is gone.
Carpe Diem. Seize The Day.