This morning, I attended the funeral for my friend’s twenty year old son, Tyler, who died in a house fire on Halloween. I have yet to get used to attending the funerals for the parents of my friends, much less their children. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children, but they do. Young adults who have the world at their feet are not supposed to die, but they do. Now, I am left wondering what to think and what to do.
There were many tears shed today. For my beautiful friend and her family whose entire lives changed in an instant. For her son who lost his life at such a young age. For all those whose lives he impacted who now feel the void that his death has left. For myself, as I felt utterly helpless and lost.
This young man’s life has ignited a firestorm of emotion in my heart and a whirlwind of thoughts in my mind. At first, I tried to make sense of it, but that proved to be futile. Then, I tried to wax philosophically about life and death, but a philosopher I am not. Finally, I found myself clinging to the words that the pastor spoke at the end of the eulogy. As the service concluded, the pastor encouraged the mourners to honor Tyler by living life as Tyler had, “Enjoy your life!” Such a very simple statement, but it is anything but simplistic.
Tyler’s death was another harsh reminder that life is a gift, not a guarantee, and that it is to be lived and enjoyed as fully as possible every single day, not squirreled away for “some day”. Some day may never come. Too often, we live as if we have unlimited time. We don’t. We live as if we and the people we love will live forever. We won’t, and they won’t. We live as though we can delay our hopes and dreams indefinitely. We can’t, well, we can, but we shouldn’t.
So, what does it mean to “enjoy your life”? I don’t know actually. Motivational exhortations, like “seize the day”, “live like you are dying”, “just do it”, and so on, always left me feeling like somewhat of an underachiever in my own life. I thought that unless I was doing something on a grand scale, then I wasn’t living life worthy of the aforementioned quotes. So, I saw my life on a small-scale and downsized my dreams and ambitions along the way. Then, my perspective changed.
Three years ago, my life imploded under the weight of depression and anxiety, and I felt like part of me was lost. As I began to rebuild, and, in some ways, rediscover my life, I came to understand what “enjoy your life” means to me. It is the balance of finding ways to nurture my mind, heart, and spirit on a regular basis, while attending to my personal and professional responsibilities and commitments, yet never losing sight of, and taking steps toward, my dreams. While I have gotten better with this delicate balancing act, it is one that I need to focus on with greater energy. Tyler’s love of people and life and his sudden death have made that focus razor-sharp.
These last few days have left me absolutely numb, but in memory of Tyler and in honor of his mother and my friend, Dina, I vow to enjoy my life each and every day and to be grateful for the opportunity to do so. I hope you will, too.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story