My cousin passed away today.
After a courageous battle with a brain tumour, he is now resting peacefully.
He was far too young to go, a newly wed man in his early thirties. He had his whole life ahead of him.
I found this out while eating my breakfast this morning. Oceans away from my family, I just wanted to be near them, to talk to one of them, to hug them tight. I couldn’t help the tears fall as I tried to digest the news. I thought of his wife and family, and the loss they must be feeling. I thought of how unfair this was and tried to make sense of why this happened.
Then it hit me. It felt like a jolt to my system, like a physical and mental reboot –
LIFE IS SHORT.
It really brought things home for me. I could choose to question the meaning of life and how he could be taken from us so young. OR I could realise the deeper message that this loss brings – just how precious our lives are.
The choice was made. I picked myself up and decided that I would live today to the fullest in dedication of my cousin. I would be grateful to live this day, and not take for granted the fact that I am here, and he is not. I made a commitment to myself that I would appreciate every moment.
I walked into work along the valley trail and breathed in the fresh mountain air. I passed beautiful old fir trees, I watched the sun peaking over the mountain tops – getting ready to begin a brand new day. I heard the birds singing their morning songs, smelt the pine needles, and watched the clouds float elegantly across the sky.
I smiled at strangers, I said hello to everyone (all the people I passed, not just those that I chose to speak to) I consciously didn’t get flustered or stressed throughout the day at work (at things that only yesterday affected me greatly) – instead I just laughed. I didn’t sweat the small stuff, because in the scheme of things, the small stuff doesn’t really matter. I took slower, deeper breaths. I consoled people, I hugged more, I told people I love them.
I smiled today through sad eyes, and recognised the power of compassion. That everyone we come across probably has their own battles of some kind.
It’s amazing how shifting your perspective can open up a whole new experience for you. I decided to be grateful, and it bought more joy into my day.
As i strolled on home, I realised how lucky I was to have had another day in this beautiful world. I started thinking of all the things I want to do for others, how I can contribute, how I can express my love. I got completely out of my own head, stopped navel gazing, and saw my life truly for what it is – a blank canvas that I can choose to create meaning with.
Every moment is all we ever have. Yesterday is gone, and the future is not yet promised.
All we have is right NOW.
And in this moment we have the power of choice.
We have a responsibility not only to ourselves, but to our loved ones, to our community, to this world – to live with zest, to contribute, and most importantly – to love unconditionally.
It’s a shame that sometimes it takes such tragedy to trigger this innate knowledge. We have all heard it before, we all know it – yet we don’t always act on it. Why does such an important message slip from our focus in our day-to-day living?
Stress, anxiety, worry, overwhelm, greed – a toxic mix of emotion that clouds our vision. They fog up the lens that would usually show us how short and precious life is. Sometimes we fill our lives with so much busy-ness that we don’t make time to stop and really smell the roses – to appreciate every day we have.
Then day’s like today roll around to wake us from our slumber, to jolt some clarity back into our existence.
Death always has this effect on people.
It really hit home when my uncle passed away. We lost him to the most aggressive form of cancer – melanoma. It took his life within months. Again, another young man with so much life ahead of him, or so we thought. Him and his partner had so many dreams, so many plans, so many things they were looking forward to. But they didn’t get the luxury of time that we all seem to believe is promised to us in life.
The experience really made me think – why are we here? what do I want my life to contribute to? What legacy do I want to leave behind?
I decided in that moment to stop taking my life for granted. To stop waiting for some grand day in the future when everything will be perfect and happiness will finally reign over me.
Shortly after this loss I decided to take the plunge, to live my life to the fullest. I moved overseas, as I knew I couldn’t count on having the luxury of time in the future.
Somehow by realising my own mortality, and how fleeting life can be – it took away the fear, the doubt, the deliberation – and forced me follow my heart.
“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.” ― Henry David Thoreau
I will be forever grateful for these realisations – what an incredible parting gift they left behind.
I hope they are resting in peace with the knowledge that they have had such a profound effect on the lives of others.