It can be so fleeting.
Gone in an instant.
Such a fragile thing, really.
Some people are lucky enough not to realize this. They go through their own lives, never giving death a second thought.
That was me.
Ten and a half years ago.
Not a care in the world.
Until, on that fateful morning God took my sweet little brother to be with Him.
When my husband arrived at my work to tell me, in that instant, everything changed for me.
Life became as fragile as it really is.
Then, I knew the truth.
The truth that none of us are promised tomorrow with the ones we love.
We just aren't.
Anything can happen.
It is beyond scary. It can cripple you if you let it. I did that once. When I was pregnant with my first child (a year after my little brother's untimely passing), I cried every single time my husband left the house for work. I was sure that I was watching him drive away for the very last time. It broke me into a million little pieces. That anxiety. I was scared to death of losing him and raising my baby alone, not being able to share her with him, her not knowing what an amazing man her Daddy was.
Fortunately, I finally got that anxiety under control.
Then, I became a mother.
Thankfully, that changed things for me. I became too busy to allow fear to creep into my life anymore. I was busy nursing and changing diapers and cuddling and loving and feeding and playing with my adorable baby girl (who was named after my little brother, by the way).
Then, my world was shaken once again.
Two and a half years after losing my only sibling, I also lost my Daddy.
Eight years later, I'm still not sure I've ever dealt with that loss. I was "too busy" to grieve "properly" at the time. A 9 month old daughter kept me distracted.
Then, a new pregnancy.
Pregnancies, babies, pets, a loving husband, a wonderful mother, good friends.
Life kept me distracted from the reality that my family had been cut in HALF in a matter of two and a half years.
I think I eventually became somewhat numb to death (as long as it kept its distance, not taking those closest to me).
I've lost count of the losses I've endured over the past several years.
My great-grandmother died a few months after my brother.
One of my very best friends got in a car accident with his brand new wife while I was pregnant the first time and both died instantly.
Another friend of ours fell off of a balcony a year or so later and died.
Most of my Dad's family has died in the past few years ~ his mother, his sister, both his father and his step-father, aunts, etc.
My best friend lost his mother to a car accident almost two years ago. I loved her and love her family dearly.
My mom's cousin died recently.
That same cousin's Dad's wife died recently, leaving my great-Uncle to lose both a daughter and a wife in a short time.
All of my animals have died ~ one dog died about four years ago and then I lost both cats and my other dog this year.
I could go on. My mind has turned to mush. I'm sure I'm forgetting something major. I can barely keep track anymore.
I just found out yesterday that someone else I know (who has two children) was hit by a car and killed on Friday. Her best friend (whom I also know) had to identify her body.
Then, some sweet kids (like teenager kids) I met at a concert a while back have been posting on Facebook since Friday about their best friend being missing.
His body was found this morning.
19 years old
Takes my breath away. At this point in my life, I am closer in age to that child's mother than to that child. So, I immediately think of my babies.
But, what can we do?
Do we allow that fear to take hold of us and hold us prisoner?
If I allow my thoughts to wonder to losing either of my babies or my husband or anyone else I love, my heart stops beating for just a moment.
If I allow my thoughts to wonder to my children losing me, my heart stops beating.
I just can't go there. My heart isn't strong enough.
So, I won't.
With death seeming to surround me these days, all I can do is ...
LOVE more deeply,
SPEAK more kindly,
HOLD on tighter to those I love.
All I can do is GIVE THANKS each and every day for the blessings in my life and
PRAY to God that I get to enjoy these blessings forever.
What if you woke up today and only had what you'd thanked God for yesterday?
I've read that quote recently and it stopped my heart (once again).
Luckily I am one who DOES give thanks daily.
But, man does it make you stop and think.
Give thanks every day for those you love, for what you have.
Enjoy the little things.
Savor the moments.
It is Jewish New Year, a time to take stock of how you've been living your life, make amends and do better. It's the perfect time to start new habits of kindness, thankfulness and love.
I know that's what I'm thinking about.