Live life to the fullest – what does it really mean?

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This weekend, having watched the Remembrance Day Service, I received some sad news from a friend.  Her father-in-law had passed away after a short illness.  As these things always do, I’m left with a series of emotions.  Sadness naturally, gratitude, concern and above all wonder.   We all ask the same questions, “why him,” “why now,” “how could this happen?”

When I watched the service I was moved to tears, as I often am, and reminded of the great sacrifice men and women younger than I am now made in order that I might live in freedom.  That I might take time out of my day to do things like write this and post it on the web for anyone to read.  In a way, though gratitude is my overwhelming emotion, it is a far easier thing to deal with.  I have no personal stories of war or significant loss;  even though many of my family have served, it just wasn’t something anyone was comfortable talking about.

When my friend told me about her Father-in-Law, it was much much more difficult.  I never met him, but of course my heart went out to her and all of her family.  How does one react to such things?  When people pass away, we want to offer comfort and end up saying things like “he’s in a better place now,” and “he’s not suffering anymore.”   Whilst these statements are true (certainly if you believe in a higher power),  I think we say them primarily because we’re not sure how to react or what to say.  I mean, other than friendly words of support, is there much we can do?

When we lose someone we’re close to, especially when we aren’t expecting it, the old adage surfaces and we’re bombarded by thoughts like “just goes to show you – live life to the fullest, because you never know,” and “live each day as it comes,” and so on .  But in reality what do these statements actually mean?  If I truly lived each day as if it were my last, I certainly wouldn’t be concerned by things like paying my electricity bill and worrying about when the car tax was due.  It could be my last day on earth.  I should be bungee jumping or seeing the Grand Canyon.  Right?  Thankfully, I’m still here.  Unfortunately, that means I have to pay my electricity bill and I should probably go and check about the car tax.  But it does give me food for thought.

I think what these statements really mean is that we should never forget the ones we love.  Never go to bed on an argument.  Never worry about the things we cannot change.  Never forget our dreams, however impractical and far fetched.  And always always make the most of what we have.

If you’re reading this, hug someone close to you and tell them that you love them.   If you’re not with them, phone them, email them, facebook them – whatever.  Just do it.  NOW.

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