Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

We are all reeling from the news of the sudden death of a very famous person and his invited passengers in a helicopter crash this week. Many people are posting about the fragility of life and to make every day count and express love to those dear to you.

Prior to that devastation, I had heard about the sudden death of a man around my age, who was happily and busily vacationing all summer in an RV after his retirement this year. I knew of this because his wife was a girl I grew up with, and I followed their vacation adventures on Facebook. On the 56th day, she posted news of her husband’s heart stopping. By the 60th day of their vacation, he was gone. The same day still another acquaintance was hit from behind by a car going twice the speed limit and the perpetrator’s car flipped over because it was such a powerful hit. My acquaintance survived but he had plenty of injuries, and gave him pause to think about what can happen in any moment at any time, and the fragility of life. My heart goes out to these friends and to all who are suffering a loss right now. Life is so random. You just never know what tomorrow will bring.

In my current era of life, I have known about a dozen people in my generation lost to a very sudden death. Here one moment, gone the next. Several were due to accidents, and several were health related, with no warning beforehand. Again, you just never know when your number is called, when your time on earth has expired. It is a frightening reality.

With that in mind, I try my best to never count on tomorrows. I have made a serious pledge to myself to spend less time worrying about the future. (And noted here that there is plenty enough to worry about in the present day with the state of the world, etc.)

I “Sha La La La La, Live for Today.” (Thank you Grass Roots for that great song.) I live in the moment, appreciating with great gusto each and every day. It is very freeing to give up worrying about the future. I may live to 100 or past, but I do not know right this very moment how many years I have left. No one has any clue about that, and there are no real crystal balls to tell us. Rather than this being a downcast or depressing way to be, it is just practical (and I am a very practical girl – part of my Taurus nature) and it also helps one appreciate the present with much more vividness and vivaciousness, which matches my natural personality.

Last year I visited a friend I do not get to see much, maybe once every five to eight years apart. As we were saying our goodbyes, and he was making promises and plans for an even greater adventure on our next visit, I shocked him by telling him that one never knows if there will BE a next time. I am usually not fatalistic like that, but it is a fact that I don’t plan for five years or even two or three years in the future because anything could happen anytime or anyplace, especially into our senior years (which is hard to believe just how old we are when I still feel so young.). However it was being realistic because it is a tough lesson I learned due to some shocking and sudden losses of friends and acquaintances in my age group; and I have been absolutely stunned each time I lose another peer to sudden death. Life throws major curve balls, and it is not always fair what happens in the end. Sometimes the good guys leave us way too soon.

Each year at our Jewish High Holidays, we thank God for another year of life, and wonder who among us will be inscribed for the entire coming year of life. That’s where I am right now. Appreciating every single present day, appreciating the NOW, and feeling grateful for the time I am given. I am not holding back, and I am living my life on my own terms, doing the things I want to do, and spending the maximum amount of time with people who I hold dearest.

Knowing that tomorrow is never assured to anyone, it gives even more urgency to make sure to live every day to the fullest, to go on those trips and vacations, to attend those concerts, and to enjoy the days you are given in whatever ways you enjoy the most. The lesson is DO NOT WAIT for life to happen. Make things happen.

Life’s unpredictability is another reason to make sure you express your love daily to the people that mean the most to you. Don’t put off phone calls, visits, or compliments. Whisper those sweet words to those you hold dear and NEVER EVER hold back. With the many options we have to communicate these days, that part is easy. Texts, messages, phone calls, in person visits all work well to let a person know you care. Regrets for not having done that cause a lot of guilt in a lot of people when something unexpected happens. There is never a good reason to hold back or to procrastinate for anyone in your life who you care for, as one day it may be too late to let them know.

Although this blog so far sounds maudlin, my positivity and zest for life is well known. I am a naturally effervescent, vivacious, sentimental-mushy personality, and I live life with a vigor that many admire. I don’t hesitate to put in writing that I care when the time calls for it, or to speak the words that are so important to deliver to those I care about. I don’t pass up a single opportunity to have fun, or to be with those I love. That keeps me very happy and in a positive state of mind.

People that follow my life, on Facebook or otherwise, often remark that I have more fun than any five people they know. This is purposeful, and has been how I direct my life and time since I was at an age where I was able to control my own destiny.

I know some who envy my free spirit. Some are bound up on hoarding for the future, waiting to live life in retirement, or at some point in the future, a day that will only come for a certain percentage of people. Others just do not know how to live in the present because they worry so much about the future. I used to be a planner like that too, always calculating for the future, but since I hit 60 and lost some close friends, I have changed.

It is a sad reality that someone can disappear from our universe so suddenly and randomly, but the real message here is to live life to the fullest.

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