Yesterday, on behalf of a professional colleague, I attended the funeral (or home going) of his beautiful daughter who finally ended a lengthy battle with cancer. She was a prolific writer for the Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal. She’d met the president and at a very young age had earned the respect of journalists with twice her experience. She was a loving wife and an awesome mother. There were many testimonials about how loving, sweet, kind and beloved she was. They couldn’t share enough stories of how she lovingly challenged those around her to do better and be better. Most importantly, she was a woman of God. She loved the Lord and was a living testimony to His goodness. Even in her darkest and sickest days, she still professed that she was here for a purpose and so thankful for the many good days of health she was given. She took her last breath in her husband’s arms a few days ago. She was 33-years-old. Born exactly two months before me.
I left the service feeling a mixed cocktail of emotion. I felt so hurt on behalf of her family to lose someone so clearly dear to them at such a young age. I hurt for her five-year-old son. Though I was eight, I too, lost a parent at an early age. I understand the journey he’s about to take and the pieces that will always be missing because this critical person is gone. Almost as equal as the hurt was an overwhelming sense of reflection on my own life. I began to wonder: if I were to die at this very moment, what would people say about me? Have I accomplished anything worth eulogizing?
Will they say I’m loving? Will they speak of my relationship with God? Have I shown myself to be a good mom? Have I been a good wife? Daughter? Sister? Friend? Will my colleagues say it was a joy to work with me? Will they witness to my strides as a game changer and influential contributor? Have I left my mark at all?? Or have I wasted time chasing things, people and accomplishments that don’t really amount to anything worthy of attention?
I realized very quickly that if I had to ask these questions that perhaps I’m not quite happy with the path I’m taking to earn them or an admirable response. That’s not to say that I’m making horrible choices, but there’s something to be said for valuing what’s truly valuable in this life and not being easily distracted by what’s worthless and “shiny”. By that I mean, leave work at a decent time at least a few times a week to make sure you’re making a comparable investment in your own life as you do to the job. You’re at work chasing this phantom “job well done” from a system that will and could easily replace you once you’re gone. You’re killing yourself for that “good boy” or “good girl” from the boss all because he’s dangling a promise (something shiny) as the prize for your labor. Meanwhile you’re MISSING YOUR LIFE. Let me say that again … ready … YOU’RE MISSING YOUR LIFE.
If you die tomorrow, are you going to wish you’d spent 60 hours at the office this week? Will your family wish you’d spent that time with them instead? Perhaps you’d even still be alive if you’d just made that healthy investment in yourself. I know the grind is tough and the corporate climb is rugged. I know what it feels like to get so close to that next title that you can taste it so you virtually kill yourself to earn it. Meanwhile, the guy next to you got it because he’s tickling the boss’s balls and gets the promotion years ahead of you. You’re killing yourself trying to reach that “shiny” place and for what? More money? More power? What are you seeking that holds any real value?
Listen, I’m not saying let’s all go be hippies and flee reality like Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd in Wanderlust. I’m not advising for you to live outside of the bounds of reality and expect the ecosystem you’re trying to succeed within to make a 180-degree culture shift because you woke up and saw the light. I am saying that you have the life you demand. And when it’s all said and done, what will this system say about you?? If they speak heavily about your professional accomplishments and very little about your personal relationships, do you consider that a life well lived?
I don’t. I can’t. If God gave me the privilege to see my own funeral, it would tear me apart to know that my greatest accomplishments had very little to do with how I poured my heart and soul into edifying my family. How I loved. How I lived with passion. How I followed my dreams. How I was unafraid to seek exactly what I want out of this life. And how I spent every single moment of every single day living an authentic life.
What will they say about you when you’re gone? Know that each day that you’re blessed to live your actions cement your legacy. Your choices script your eulogy. Are you happy with the story? If not, I suggest a quick shift. I say it often because I cannot say it enough: this life is NOT a dress rehearsal. This is it, people. Live with purpose. Live like you may not get another moment to get it right because the fact is … you may not.
Though I never met the young woman whose funeral I attended, my life has been instantaneously transformed by the choices she made. The testimonies and eulogy given on her behalf provided an overwhelming and intimate view of her life. I was so proud of her and I didn’t even know her. More importantly, I felt challenged by her to make sure to cherish every day I’m blessed with by making choices that honor this gift of life.
What will they say about you?
Love you. Mean it. ~AskThePRGirl
P.S. I chose this week’s picture because I remember my thoughts the exact moment it was taken. I was on my honeymoon and at that very moment I was thinking, “If I never take another breath, I couldn’t be any happier than I am right at this moment.” I thought it was fitting to share 🙂