A friend recently lost his wife. She was just 47 when she was hit by a car and died.
After getting a divorce a few years back, my friend had remarried and was as giddy as a high school girl talking about his new wife. His eyes twinkled when he talked about her influence on his health, his home and his outlook on life.
I never met his new wife, but my heart gets hot and my eyes tear up when I think about these two people just having found each other, then having it suddenly, unexpectedly, end.
This got me e-mailing with another friend who also lost his wife unexpectedly a few years back. Since he’s a former sports reporter, I used a sports analogy with him: when the shot clock runs out, I want no regrets about not having given it my all.
There’s also a journalist analogy here. In a newsroom, you’ll see people move mountains to get the story by deadline. But if there’s no deadline, that same work might take weeks. Urgency creates action.
Death is, of course, the ultimate deadline. I thought that might even be the origin of the word, but apparently it goes back to the Civil War.
Because life is finite, we can’t just procrastinate forever getting it right. And when I’m on my death bed, I don’t think I’ll wish I’d spent more time watching reality TV, polishing memos or commuting.
I expect I’ll always wish I’d spent more time with the people I love, laughing.
Hearing about my friend’s tragic loss refocuses me on the tricky part — that none of us knows when that deadline is or when that buzzer will sound. As the cliché says, we need to live each day as if it could be our last. I’m sure neither of them expected to be saying goodbye so soon.
Shortly after I heard about my friend’s wife, I saw this travel ad from Michigan. (I was on the elliptical machine at the gym, here in New York, at the time.) It spoke to exactly what I was feeling about each day on earth being precious.
With thanks to my home state: