A friend of mine I don’t get to see very often recently stunned me when she revealed,
“I was in the hospital for heart failure last spring.”
“What? Are you serious?
How did I not know.?
“I was kind of quiet about it. I saw you after it happened and I was wearing a portable defibrillator.”
“Oh my. What happened?”
Now you need to know my friend is one of the healthiest looking people I know. She’s a beautiful trim, athletic, 60-year-old woman. She is often inviting me and her friends to do interesting first-time experiences and dares.
She is also a mom, grandmother, businesswoman, and widow, twice. The death of her last husband took her to depths of sadness and loss she’d never known. That’s when I met her a few years ago. She says her life changed when she started doing first time experiences.
Anyway, she in no way looks like a candidate for heart failure.
“Doctors think a virus attacked my heart.”
“How the heck does that happen?”
“No one knows exactly. I got sick and a virus attacked my heart and it almost stopped pumping blood. I nearly died but I feel so much better now. It’s taken months to fully feel like myself again. Doctors say I’m good to go.”
I gave her a hug thinking how close I came to losing my friend, and as if reading my mind she said, “If anything happens to me, I want everyone to know I had the best time. I’m having the best time now. Just put that on my tombstone: I had the best time because it’s true.”
Instead of saying, that won’t happen, I responded, “Me too. I’m having the best time, I’m so glad I know you.”
We are two people who know tomorrow is not promised so there’s really no point in saying it is. By the way, that’s not depressing to us. It’s energizing.
People will ask me sometimes, how does having cancer twice and having a colon removed for ulcerative colitis, change your perspective on life?
The answer is this.
I make decisions differently. That’s the impact. If I got the worst news tomorrow that I should be getting my affairs in order, I would be ticked off if I was not living the best life I could up to that very moment.
Working with college students every day and daring people and organizations to be their best, family and friends…that’s a purpose and mission that keeps my heart full and going.
If I’m not living my best life, I try to change it. If the worst happens tomorrow, I want to be able to say with sincerity, what my friend says, “I had the best time.”
Life, we know every day isn’t a party.
There are illnesses and losses and disappointments and crises. But even then, every day is an opportunity to help someone, or create something, or try something new, to love and laugh. Every day we breathe and get up and feel well, is a day to experience life fully; all of it.
What would you need to change in your life to be able to say, at the end of the day, “I had a great time.”
You know, you can start now even with the smallest changes.
To my friend, thank you for sharing. Thank you for reminding me how lucky we are to be here.
We dare to have “a great time.” You?