My sister-in-law died last week. And as you do when you lose someone, I’ve been thinking a lot about her. For the past few days, I’ve been wondering: what would she have done differently if she’d known she didn’t have much time left?
For Sharon the last two years had been really hard. I won’t go into details, but the bottom line is that she had isolated herself from most everyone who loved her. She pulled back from friends and family during a difficult time. This is frightening to me. I have this tendency. But if she had known for certain that she wouldn’t be here much longer, would she have made the same choices? I’m thinking not.
Priorities change in an instant for those who get a diagnosis of cancer or some other terminal illness. Suddenly the things that consume us seem absurd. But how many people just go along majoring on the minors when unbeknownst to them, their time on earth is fast approaching an end?
The year before my precious mother left this planet, she was different. She started giving away some of her things. She gave me a set of dishes that belonged to my Gramma and gave my sister, Debra, our brother’s china. (We lost David in 1999) On our last Thanksgiving with her, she carved into the turkey and discovered it wasn’t done. Normally this would have set off a panic. Our picture perfect Thanksgiving was about to be ruined. Instead, she laughed and we microwaved slices of turkey breast. Just days before she breathed her last breath we gathered for Christmas Eve at Debra’s house. Mom, who was always scurrying around making sure everything was just “so”, seemed uninterested in the food and presents. That night she had this peaceful glow about her and she hugged on everyone a lot. She was quiet and tender in the midst of the chaos of unwrapping a hundred presents.
So this morning, I’m thinking of some people I love that are no longer with us. I’m thinking that life is short and I can’t count on having 30 more years. Sometimes there’s warning that eternity is close, like with my brother David. Other times there’s no warning. I want to live today like I may not have tomorrow.