Last night, I went to a 16th birthday party. There was cake, a live band, a cash bar for the adults, and lots of food. There was only one thing missing: a birthday girl. The little princess died 8 years ago of cancer. So for what would have been her 16th birthday, her mom threw a benefit. It was a lovely night, and hearing stories about her brought back a lot of suppressed memories. The little girl was like a sister to me, and her death was devastating. This little angelic girl, whose only complaint was that her hair was falling out, who was always ready with a smile and a “How are YOU?” was gone.
I think everyone has a moment when they realize that life just isn’t fair. Then they have a moment when they accept that fact. For some people, that’s the same moment. For me, the realization came when she was diagnosed with leukemia, but the acceptance didn’t come until she died. I guess until that point I kept thinking that something would set the universe right and she’d be cured and grow up to be an amazing person … but nothing did.
The thing is, by 8 years old, she’d already taught me one of the most valuable life lessons I’ve ever learned … life is short. Ok, that was an obvious one given the story, sorry. Here’s the real one: you can’t change some things in life. Some diseases are handed to you without provocation, and you’re stuck wondering “why me?!” Sooner or later you’re going to die. Usually, you cant control when or where or how. What you can control is this: What are you doing now? Who are you making happy? Whose life are you improving? It’s easy to wallow, but it doesn’t help anyone – not even you.
This doesn’t mean that you have to donate thousands of dollars or hours of service. Sometimes, all it takes is a compliment, a hug, an anonymous act of kindness, or even just a heartfelt smile. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, so what are you doing to make the most of it?