I pulled myself back while sitting with family recently and really took IT ALL IN. The laughter, the tears, the sounds, the voices, the togetherness that filled the house of my Aunt who just learned she had stage 4 bone cancer.
Time is such a precious thing that we cannot take for granted but yet it is in our nature to do so. Why then do we spend so much of our time mindlessly scrolling on our phones or binge watching a TV show? Time is the only thing that we can never get back. Once it passes; it is gone forever. To be native to what our future holds is maybe what being human is all about. I simply ask for you to zoom out and enjoy the simple things. On my lonely drive home from visiting my Aunt, I had time to reflect. I didn’t listen to music, as my head was flooded with so many emotions and thoughts. I was coming to an overpass on the interstate and I couldn’t help but stare at a large American flag gently blowing in the wind as I passed it. Such beauty. Such a calming. Everyday wonderment is all around if we look up from our screens and get out of the cubicles.
Life has more meaning when you can live it. You have one shot to make a difference. One go on this earth, so you need to make it count. I find it true in what they say that life is really full of highs and lows. So we should really enjoy the high moments because they are certain to not last forever. Anyone’s life can change in an instant. These lows are not predictable and usually catch us so off guard. But these lows, as tragic as some many be, are there to remind us to live, to enjoy, and to be grateful for the good times.
So often we talk about the bad things in our lives when we should have gratitude for all the good within ourselves and others. When we focus on the positive things; then being happy isn’t a choice anymore. It becomes a lifestyle, a living breathing way of life.
We all have that one aunt who is different from the rest. Cut from a different cloth and so much fun to be around. Throughout our lives, we are inspired by different people. Some are famous that we may never meet but connect with based on their values and beliefs. Some are perfect strangers that we hear about that have done something amazing for humankind and it restores your faith that the world is still full of great people. Some are humanitarians of history that were the first of their time and have accomplished something truly visionary. And some, and maybe the most important, are those that are close to you in your daily life. One of these people for me, is my Aunt that just was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
She has always been the crazy one in the family that truly lives life to the fullest. In her early twenties, she was in a very bad motorcycle accident with a severe head and brain injury. She fought to learn to read, to talk, and to write again. Her future was very unclear. She was blessed with a miracle and had a full recovery but it took a long road to get there. I have reason to believe that this near death experience shaped her into the strong female she is today.
At 49, my aunt lost her husband to colon cancer. It was heartbreaking to see her and the rest of my family go through this. She was resilient through it all and showed such strength and perseverance to me, her three children, and to so many others. My uncle wrote on a notepad in his final days a message to her. It read, “NEVER STOP LOVING, LIVING, DOING.” That is exactly what she did.
She didn’t let tragedy consume her when her world came crumbling down. She didn’t become bitter and develop a negative attitude toward life. She didn’t feel sorry for herself that she was a widow. Instead, she was grateful for the time they spent together, for their three beautiful and healthy children, and for her strong support system to help her through.
I have always been inspired by her authenticity. She didn’t care if people liked her or not and she spoke the truth even if sometimes it wasn’t well received. My aunt has always remained true to who she is, adapted to her surroundings, and played the hand she was dealt. She found love again too and was reunited with her high school sweetheart who had also lost his spouse to cancer as well. Their love story has always been one of my favorites. You couldn’t help but smile and feel good when you saw the two of them together. It goes to show, if someone is meant to be in your life, they will. The universe has a precarious way of bringing people together sometimes.
Her heart is big and full of courage as she faces yet another challenge. She is surrounded by so many friends and family that care so deeply about her as she has brought JOY to so many faces. During my two day visit, I was overwhelmed by the number of people that came to visit her. The front door was a revolving door of people coming in and out. While she rested and took a nap, I have the opportunity to sit down with her long time friends from high school (they call themselves, “THE YAYAS”) and hear stories of my aunt that I didn’t know. It was clear just how much this woman meant to them. JOY was a word that was used alot in the conversations. Friends are the best family to have because at the end of the day; they CHOOSE to be part of your family. They are not connected by blood; they are connected based on their own free will. And what could be more powerful or more true than that?
My aunt couldn’t believe all of the people in the community that have come to show their support for her through visits, cards, flowers, gifts, and love and prayer. She said, “It’s just me. I don’t know why they think I’m so special.” The special ones are special because they don’t always know the impact that they have on others. Her love and joy is endless. She has taught me an important concept- LOVE IS A RIPPLE. She has given love in some many ways to others and it is now her time to receive the love back in her biggest time of need. Never underestimate the ripple of your actions. You get what you give. Her actions were always driven by love. Her meaning, her purpose.
Your actions cause a ripple effect outward- one person at a time. Give to those deserving of your time and interest. Say what is on your mind. Empower and encourage others. Don’t wait; do it today before the moment is gone.