On a warm summer’s evening last June, Richard and I gathered at a nearby beachfront enjoying drinks and appetizers with others who had recently moved to Vancouver Island. The air vibrated with everyone’s excitement with their new (or relatively new) surroundings. As most of us had finally reached retirement, the air was also filled with hope and optimism for all of the possibilities that lie ahead.
As I moved about in my usual chatty style, Richard settled into one spot getting into deep conversation with another newcomer. Both men had a passion for CNN, both loved to rant about the antics of a certain President, and both were looking forward to their long-planned adventures that would come with retirement.
This past Saturday, just over six months after that gathering, Richard and I met with many of those same people also on a nearby beachfront. We were there to say goodbye to the man whom Richard had conversed with so easily just months before. This past autumn, that man so strong and vital and so ready to live his dreams was diagnosed with cancer. He died three months after his diagnosis.
As Richard and I stood on the beachfront, listening to warm stories shared about our friend, and toasting him with scotch (our friend’s favourite drink), we hugged each other tightly.
It is so easy to take our lives for granted – even when we know better. It is so easy to forget that life is fleeting. It is so easy to shield ourselves in denial.
Life and love are our most precious gifts. Call a sibling. Write a note to a friend. Tell your Mom that you love her. Hold your family and friends close. Apologize to someone whom you’ve hurt (it doesn’t matter who started it). Seize life now. Do not expect tomorrow to be a guarantee.
Our friend did not want a funeral. Instead, he wanted us all to celebrate life. That advice is now my New Year’s Pledge.
Rest in peace, dear friend.