What If You Died Today?

What if you died today?

A little over a month ago, a 51 year old man died. I knew him from high school only and he was only a year older than myself. He celebrated his 51st birthday, laid down and died in his sleep. The coroner said that the cause of death was natural causes.  As you would expect, many of those who knew him were shocked and devastated…and rightly so. Everyone said that he was such a wonderful person, no known health issues…just didn’t wake up that day.

I could turn this into an eternity discussion and since I am a Christian it would be very easy to do that. But if you are already a Christian, what if you died today? What if you laid down tonight, knowing that you would not wake up on the earth? What would you do before you went to sleep? Many things have been written about “What would you do if you found out that this was your last day to live?” but what if you didn’t have a whole day?

What about an hour?

30 minutes?

See, we will never be notified a whole day in advance, so let’s just drop it to half an hour?

Would you do what I am doing? Write to everyone? What would you say?

What would you say to your parents? Your brother or sister?

What about your kids? Your grandkids?

Could you look back at your life and honestly say that if you didn’t get the chance to talk to them before you left, they would know what you would have said?

Your friends, do they know? What about Facebook? Does your status know?

I listened to my pastor speak on Sunday about how precious it is to have the forgiveness that Christ gave. He gave the example of a man who was driving carelessly down the road and, because of his carelessness, hit and killed a small child. He goes to jail, serves time for involuntary manslaughter and is released. Although he has paid his debt to society, in the eyes of the law, nothing he can physically do can make the family of that small child forgive him. Nothing. So he lives with the pain and punishment of his carelessness.

How many people are you needlessly letting live with the pain of your unforgiveness? Because of your hurt, your pride, your unwillingness to forgive? And for what?

So that you can live in your anger and hatred?

To die in peace with yourself and everyone else, you need to take the action of forgiveness. If you died today, would they know what you would have said, knowing that you were leaving?

Say it before that day. Say it today. You may not have tomorrow.

Losing My Friend

This is probably one of the hardest posts I have written to date.  I started writing it just hours after the event so it is forthcoming and raw.  I had to capture my feelings while they were fresh so it cemented more in my heart about the importance of journaling…because we as humans, forget.

“Last Friday (6/14/13), I lost a wonderful and faithful friend.  My dog, who was approximately 14 years old, fell ill suddenly and had to be humanely euthanized.  I write about it because I have never lost a friend like him that was so close to me.  I am not going to write about all the wonderful things that he did but rather I am needing to write about the effect that his passing has had upon me.

I called the vet on that Friday afternoon fully expecting to be told that my dog was coming home that day.  Unfortunately, the vet said that it would be a good idea if I came in because he had taken a downturn in the last 24 hours.  Since I was picking up my 14 year-old son after work, he would be with me.

We walked into the vet’s office and were taken to where he was.  He laid with his head between his front legs motionless, eyes bright but that was all.  I felt that he was mad at me until I realized that he could not wag his tail because he was too weak to move anything.  He could not even lift his head.  My son and I sat on the cold concrete floor and pet him and cried.

When I was told what needed to be done, a myriad of emotional questions came to mind.  “Can’t he live just one more day?”, “Can I take him home to die there?”, “Should I be here for the procedure or should I just leave?”. “With it being my decision, how do I live with it?”.  With my 14 year old son at my side and after calling my wife on the phone, I decided to go ahead and end his suffering.  “What would my sons think of me?”, “Is this one of the rites of passage to becoming a man?”.

We slid him on a blanket to an examination room and he was so weak that the sliding motion winded him.  He could not do anything but look at me…and I wondered, “Do you want me to do this?”, “Do you know what is happening?”, “Can you ever forgive me?”.

We comforted him and talked to him calmly, reminisced about old memories and made amends.  I apologized more than once for the times that I was harsh with him and asked for forgiveness.  The vet came in to give him a sedative shot and told that it may take a few tries because his blood pressure was so low that some veins had already collapsed.

When the sedative started to take effect, I said “we love you” and “goodbye, old friend” while he could still hear me. His poor worn body relaxed and then settled to slow, deep breath.  She gave the second injection and I asked how long it would take.  She said it may take a couple of minutes, maybe longer depending on his circulation.

He took a few more breaths and then it stopped…

I let out a short yelp that came from holding my emotions back for so long and my son and I cried together while we pet his lifeless body.  I was truly heartbroken for the first time in years.

As time has gone by, the pain has gotten easier.  I still think that I see him in the corner of my eye, on the porch, in the hallway.  I find myself waiting for him to come to the kitchen after dinner for a leftover bone or piece of meat but there is emptiness where there was a subtle joy.”

It has taken me a month to actually post it but I felt that it was necessary so that some of my posts would have this as a point of reference.  I do not know what you may glean from this post but possibly you will.

Faithful and unconditional friend
Faithful and unconditional friend