Recent deaths emphasize life’s importance

by Life Editor Melissa Parker

One morning I woke up thinking about life, aging and the inevitable end to it all. I wrote a Facebook status to share those thoughts with others.

“I was thinking about something this morning,” the post said. “Age and aging. We are all dealing with something I call ‘life years.’ The years left in your life. Someone who is 25 may have the same ‘life years’ left as someone who is 85. Make the most of your ‘life years’ people. Live each day to the fullest and let nothing and no one hold you back from happiness and pursuing your dreams.”

We never know how much time we have left.

The campus and community have experienced far too many deaths lately. Jacob and Jeremiah Sanders, Crystal Lyle, Bessie Morris and others in the community are gone too soon.

We often think we will live forever. The truth is, we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

Life is short. It doesn’t matter how many years a person lives. It’s not enough. I see so many people afraid to be themselves because they are too worried about what others will say or think.

Hospice nurse Bronnie Ware wrote a book listing the five biggest regrets of the dying. Their biggest regrets in life, when it was far too late to do anything about them, were:

  1. Wishing they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not live the life others expected of them
  2. Wishing they hadn’t worked so hard
  3. Wishing they’d had the courage to express their feelings
  4. Wishing they’d stayed in touch with their friends
  5. Wishing they had let themselves be happier.

Let the recent deaths serve as a reminder that life is precious.

Do those things you have been putting off. Wear that crazy outfit, cut your hair and love who you want. Call your friends. Call your parents. Tell that certain someone you love them. Be you and be happy about it.

I’m still working on this. I’d like to say it gets easier to, as Nike suggests, “Just Do It,” but the fact is, it doesn’t. It’s a daily struggle to put my happiness first or at least nearer the top of my to-do list, but I’m not giving up. I’m back in school at 46 and loving every anxiety-ridden moment of it. Next on my list is traveling outside the U.S. I want to make the most of my ‘life years.’ What about you?

Writer Marie Beynon Ray said it best:

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.”