A friend’s early passing provides an opportunity for reflection

A friend of ours passed away a couple days ago.  He wasn’t a close friend, he was more of an acquaintance whom we always enjoyed seeing whenever we would run into each other at parties.  We were Facebook friends, so at least we had a spectator view of each other’s lives.

He was diagnosed with advanced cancer last July, and as it turned out, he lived only six months longer.  But he made the most of those six months.  While I’m sure he had private times of anger and grief, on the outside he was always cheerful, happy, and full of love for others.  He seemed to accept his situation with remarkable calmness and grace.  Perhaps he valued life more because he knew he had only a finite amount of it left.

My friend’s passing has hit rather close to home.  He was about the same age as Jeff and me.  While I have every reason to believe that we’re both in good health and will continue to live for a long time, of course life has no guarantees and that could change at any time, for any of us.

This event has caused me to think more about how I’m living my life on a day-to-day basis.

Am I making the most of each day?  I’m not just talking in terms of accomplishments or productive time vs. wasted time.  I’m talking more about appreciating the gift of each day, and the relationships I have with the people in my life.

I’ve been thinking (even before my friend passed away) about how Facebook has redefined how we keep in touch with one another.  It seems that I now have a spectator view of many more people’s lives, but not as much closeness or quality time with people as I used to have.   Of course, that is within my power to change.

If I was told I had six months to live, how would I live differently?

Photo by Jens Mayer

Under that scenario, I would be more willing to spend down my savings by taking trips to visit places I’ve always wanted to see.  But it would be imprudent to do that without knowing that I had only a short time to live.  And as my friend discovered, as you become weaker as your disease progresses, you may be less able to do things, and that which you do may tire you more quickly.  Still, I realize that I shouldn’t just put things off indefinitely, for a “someday” that may never come.

What other things can I change about my life to experience more happiness and true value from each day?  I can reassess which things in my life really matter and which things matter less.

I don’t have answers yet, but my friend’s passing has raised these questions.  I suppose it’s something we should all think about from time to time.

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(c) 2015 Dave Hughes.  All rights reserved.

Photo credits:

Man on balcony:  Margot Pandone. Some rights reserved.

Kayak at sunset:  Jens Mayer.  Some rights reserved.