The Elephant in the Room
MacGyver once said, “Everyone is going to die, the trick is not to rush it.” Pretty good advice from a guy who made his living avoiding assassins, blowing up bad guys, playing with deadly toxins and elements and generally dancing with danger on a daily basis.
While my life is pretty tame compared to Mac’s, I’ve stared death in the face a few times, too: falling into a lake as a kid; meeting a car on a narrow mountain road head on; cowering under a table in Manta, Ecuador during a bank robbery with bullets whizzing overhead.
Although those specific times makes one stop and think, the reality and busyness of life has a tendency to overlay the immediacy of death. We become complacent and move away from the realization that we are not guaranteed a long and happy life, that each day could be our last.
Death is what gives value to life. It strengthens our resolve to make the right choices, to squeeze the most out of each moment, ensure each day is breathtaking. Death keeps us on our toes, makes us treasure the people around us.
The real problem is we believe to make life count it has to be grand, big, with moments or events that are noticeable. Nothing could be further from the truth. Living a life with no regrets is more about appreciating the little things, a walk down a country lane with the one you love just to pick up the mail from the mailbox. Holding hands while watching a movie. Being awed by the spangle of stars against a night sky. Tucking a baby close and smelling the powder on his skin. Stroking a cat and enjoying its companionship. Eating with family and friends and living in the moment.
Living in the moment is the key to living with death in the room. Do we appreciate each moment we’re given? Do we snapshot it and hold it close, appreciate it while we have it?
In a couple of short weeks, my husband will undergo chemotherapy and our lives will change radically. While life as we know it will be altered forever, it will not be over; it will only change directions. I can live with that. Moreover, I can appreciate the new direction, the new things we will experience together, the new sweetness of living in the moment; and death will become, not a piece of ugly unwanted furniture, but a part of the decor that heightens the beauty of the room.