I´ve been reminded lately of the fragility of life. Life is so delicate, so precious, and so beautiful. But we take it for granted. We get so caught up in everyday worries, always thinking ahead to tomorrow, but tomorrow is not guaranteed. Everything we have in this world could be gone in an instant. We could be gone in an instant. We’ve all heard of recent tragic events that suddenly took the lives of people in the midst of living—while swimming, boating, biking, or even just talking. We may have been touched personally by such events. These events are unexplainable and heart-breaking. We humans often believe we have some amount of control over our lives. When we have to face the reality of our powerlessness, overwhelming fear invades, leaving us frantically grasping for reasons and answers. But if there´s a take away message from a tragedy, it is that you must LIVE and LOVE in the moment.

This summer I lost a friend to cancer, and sitting with her during some of the final moments of her life, she shared her thoughts that when all is said and done, life is about loving and being loved. Nothing else matters. And she was happy that she’d had both; she had loved and she was loved. What else is there? Then she asked me this question, “What if today was your last? What if it was the last day for your loved one? How would you spend it? Who would you call? What would you say? Where would you go?”

I was reminded of something that happened to a friend several years ago. Her son was a senior in high school. The family was going to make a trip “up north” to their cabin for the weekend. The son didn’t want to go. He wanted to stay home with his friends. Son and dad had a big fight that ended with dad storming out of the house, saying to his son, “You’re a selfish little jerk.” When they got home on Sunday, they found their son dead in his bed. He had died of a congenital brain aneurism that they never knew he had. For years my friend’s husband tormented himself over the last words he said to his son. What a tragedy! Did his son know his dad loved him? Of course! But, it’s a good reminder that words matter.

Maybe it’s a function of my age and the awareness that, not only will I not live forever, but my remaining years on Earth are fewer than those that have already passed. My perspective on life has changed, with possibility and opportunity being replaced by sensitivity and inevitability. I hope understanding and compassion have replaced likelihood and achievement as I recognize my mortality. But I can’t live the rest of my life in fear either. And I don’t.

I found this quote somewhere “In the stillness of reflecting on what God has done and what he can do, he assures us that he is always with us.” So we hold on to that. No matter what, God is walking alongside us through the mud and muck, through the desert, through the deep waters toward his promise. God is guiding and protecting us. Sometimes we give in to the fear when we can’t see the path ahead, but we can be assured God will ultimately fulfill his promise. It might be hard to give up the illusion of control, but when we do, we understand the reality of God’s protection.

So, if you don’t already do so, start counting your blessings every single day. Thank God for your life and the lives of those you love. Keep a gratitude journal. I do. At the end of the day, write three things for which you are grateful. Tell the people you love that you love them! Don’t assume they know; say it! Treat each goodbye as if it were your last. Don’t let the last words you say to someone be hurtful. Smile more; laugh more; live more! Treat each day as if it were your last.

I know it’s cliché, but remember the song “Live Like You Were Dying”? Treat tomorrow as a gift (and we don’t know if we’ll get that gift.) Forget the skydiving and bull riding, but remember these things: love deeper, speak sweeter, and give the forgiveness you’ve been denying.

Life and love are God’s most precious gifts. Tragedies can occur at any time –– it makes me realize, and I hope it makes you realize too, how fragile and precious life really is. ~Marie