I recently asked a sobering question to a friend of mine who is a 41-year-old wife and mother of two. “If you were told you had only six months to live, what would you want to say to the people in your life?” She responded immediately with three statements that provide some insights into how we should live every day, because we simply don’t when our last day on earth will be! You don’t need the entirety of each statement to gain her insights. The first two words of each statement tell the story.
1. “I’m sorry…” It’s important in life to take personal responsibility for your failures and shortcomings. You, as a spouse, parent, child, and friend, are flawed and will often fall short of the ideal. Don’t pretend to have it all together. It’s important to be aware of your own failures and inadequacies, and keep life real with those you love. Don’t wallow in your failures, but don’t run and hide from them either. I have had to apologize for several “pains” I have brought into someone’s life. It’s painful but liberating. Don’t wait until it’ s time to die to apologize for the heartaches and disappointments you have brought to others.
2. “I wish…” The passing of time has a tendency to unveil unfulfilled dreams. Good intentions do not accomplish great dreams. Nor do they produce cherished memories. “Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking, into the future.”
Stop talking about taking the kids or grandkids to Disney. Instead, set a date and start saving NOW for the trip. If the love of your life has a dream, pull out all the stops to help them fulfill it. Lisa and I enjoyed such a trip to Italy this year. Don’t wait until it’s time to die, and wish you had done more together, and made more cherished memories.
3. “I love…” Few statements are as meaningful as, “I love you!” I realize in some cases it is overused and has become too casual and meaningless, but for the most part it is stated too infrequently. Love is a powerful force, and the people in our lives should have NO doubt that we deeply love them! My parents are in their 70’s and I am quickly approaching 50, but we say, “I love you” almost every day. Lisa and I have been married for over 30 years, but neither of us can assume the other knows our love. We say it every day. Our daughters are grown and married, but every visit and conversation ends with, “I love you!” You never know when you will say it for the last time! Don’t wait until it’s time to die to say “I love you”, because death may catch you by surprise!
If you were given only six months to live, what would you want to do and say? Whatever that is, write it down and develop a plan! Start now!