This coming Wednesday, October 30, 2013, will mark eight years since my mother died from cancer. While I miss her more now than ever and would have loved more time with her, I am so grateful for the 25 years I did have with her. What a gift.
She was incredible. Always smiling, always engaging, and always taking an interest in others and building them up. Not to mention, she nearly always had a delectable something in the oven like meatloaf and potatoes or chocolate chip cookies, making our Pennsylvania farm house smell amazing!
As I was reflecting back on the experience of her passing, I asked myself, “What did I really learn from that. How has it shaped me?”
I want to share three lessons I jotted down. I believe they can help us all live with more meaning and purpose in our lives.
1. Don’t take your loved ones for granted – The reality is we don’t know how long any of us are going to be around. I want to make sure I appreciate and love the people in my life. I don’t want to get so caught up in the minutiae of life that I lose sight of the big picture and what really matters.
Now, hardly a day goes by that I don’t thank God for my beautiful wife, Claudia, and our healthy son, Jude. My heart aches when I hear stories of parents who have young children who are battling with serious, life-threatening diseases. I’m reminded of how much I have to be grateful for.
2. This isn’t a test run – It can be so easy to fall into the habit of putting living off until later. We think things like, “When I get out of this job, then I’ll be happy.” Or, “When we live in a more ideal area, then we’ll reach out and make more friends.” Or, “When I am more accomplished and feel more confident, then I’ll be the person I want to be.”
The reality is, this is our life now. Things are never going to be just right. When we do finally reach that arbitrary goal we had in mind, we find we’re still not happy and we’re still thinking, “Things will be better when…” Our goal simply moved father down the road.
Life is in the living. It’s a journey and a process, not some end goal.
3. Don’t sit idly by – Rather than being passive, we need to take a stand for what we believe and be bold and have confidence.
Even though we had six months with my mom from the time the cancer was found till she died, I didn’t take the time or have the courage to have the deeper, more meaningful conversations with her. I wanted to, but in my family we didn’t always have those types of conversations so it was uncomfortable and I sat idly by.
Now, I’ve learned to be more of a leader in this area. I’ve learned to be more proactive and push beyond being uncomfortable. I’ve learned that other people almost always respond when someone leads in this way.
So those are three lessons I learned from losing my mother to cancer eight years ago. I do miss her more than ever, but I am grateful for the years I did have with her and for the legacy she left behind.
Have you ever lost someone close? What lessons have you learned from the experience? You can leave a comment on the post below.