The saying goes, “everything happens for a reason”, but I haven’t always been a fan of that belief. Mostly, I believe things happen by chance or by force but nothing happens that can’t be dealt with. None the less, sometimes I have to question my own beliefs. Just yesterday I wrote about the beginnings of life and the wonders of growth. I thought, as I was writing, to make my post about the entire circle of life: birth, growth, and the eventual death, but I chose to stick to the former half of the equation because I felt joyful holding Baby W. I wanted to focus on the happy. But life’s not always peachy. And maybe I didn’t write about the entirety of the circle of life because “everything happens for a reason”.
No one close to me has passed: let me clear that fact immediately. In fact, just today I witnessed the baptism of my godson! There’s no better example of life than that! But today I also received some troubling news about a family member and that encouraged the wheels in my mind to start spinning.
Early this morning I found out my aunt, ZA, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. We don’t know yet what stage she is in, we don’t know yet what her treatment plan or prognosis is. We know only that it is malignant, that at 40-something she is still young, and mostly, that she is the mother to a sweet young girl. My first gut reaction was fear. Fear of the unknown, of death. In this very moment no one can tell how things will turn out for my ZA and we all remain hopeful and positive, but the situation awakened a small drumbeat in my head, pounding louder and louder reminding me that the wonders of life come full circle for everyone. Are we prepared?
Two days ago a popular radio host passed: Kidd Kraddick. No one saw it coming. News of his passing has been plastered on the walls of social media. I listened to his show when I rode to school in the mornings, but I was not a particularly avid follower. I know that he was a great humanitarian and philanthropist, but I am also confident he was a great son, brother, cousin, nephew, friend. He was a normal person after all. But tomorrow morning when I turn on the radio, his voice, which is the only association I have with him, will no longer be there. He is truly gone.
And that is what scares me. One day we are here talking, laughing, loving, hating, eating, seeing – and the next day we are gone. The next day someone will wake up expecting to hear our voice and will find a deafening silence. Death is a topic we often choose to ignore because it is scary and dark, but eventually we all have to deal with it. I know I am not at ease thinking that one day – any day – it will happen to me and everyone else I know and love. So how do we prepare ourselves for the inevitable? Is preparation even possible?
I’ve already mentioned the saying, “everything happens for a reason”, but we have so many more sayings out there, overused yet under-thought that I truly believe can aid us in being better prepared for that eventuality we wish not to speak of. Here, then, is my impromptu preparation list:
1) Wake up and smell the coffee: starting off straight to the point, face reality as it is. Don’t pretend that you live in a world that isn’t true, which brings me to…
2) Life isn’t always perfect, but just smile: things are not always great, but a smile can brighten anyone’s day. I am a firm believer in smiling when on the phone with someone: they can’t see you, but they can sense your temperament through the smile.
3) Always stand up for yourself, others, and what you believe in: there is nothing worse than regret, so always do what you believe is right, including…
4) Love a whole whopping lot: don’t fear loving others. I love kisses and hugs and I love you’s. Never-ever let fear of rejection stop you from loving others or expressing your love for others.
5) Make lifelong friends: you will never be alone so long as you have one friend by your side, so know no stranger because everyone out there is a potential friend.
6) Go the extra mile: help a stranger, bend backwards for someone in need. The satisfaction of helping someone brightens your soul and theirs.
7) Remember the sky is the limit: always try harder for something better, bigger and greater; not to be mistaken with obtaining worldly possessions, but rather for achieving self satisfaction and self pride.
8) Savor every bite and every sip: we were blessed with over 10,000 taste buds in our mouths – what a shame to not use each and every one of them to fully enjoy a glass of rich red wine or a cold ice cream.
9) Teach: share your knowledge with the world, whether it is teaching a child to ride a bike or sharing a recipe with an old friend; your knowledge will be wasted if it never leaves your mind. And lastly,
10) Always remember Rome wasn’t built in a day: a great life will not happen overnight and no single action will make a person forever grand, but a life well lived, day by day, can become a fortress of history and grandeur that will never be forgotten.
These sayings are not new to any of us, but taking a moment to truly analyze each one will show us how we can live a more fulfilling life, so when the time comes, whether suddenly or painfully slowly, we can depart this world knowing we left a positive legacy in our shadows.
Kidd Kraddick will be missed by his fans, colleagues, family and friends, but he was able to leave a footprint so deep in many people’s lives that his voice rings on – even if we can’t hear it. And my ZA, though our hopes are that she will fight like a warrior and overcome this grave hiccup in life, is now offering us a reminder that it is never too late to stop and think of those ten guidelines of life. How do we want to leave this world? What impression and memory do we want people to have of us?
Live life to love and you will never have to fear the unknown again. I should make that number 11 on my impromptu preparation list. Then again, it should be number one on all our lists.