An old acquaintance died yesterday. At one time she was more than an acquaintance, many years ago, she was married to a member of my family, I knew her quite well.
She died on the other side of the world in my old country, almost alone, no family near her and living in an institution. Her children like so many from our country, moved to Europe years ago. She died from complications after surgery, she was not even 60 years old. It was a sad and bleak way to go, and the end of a sad life that at one time held so much promise.
Death is always unsettling, the closer to home , the more disturbing. The deaths of thousands in a natural disaster, or military conflict similar to the current situation in Syria, unknown victims of crime or traffic accidents get our attention and give us reason to be grateful that we are not directly affected. But when someone we know personally dies, especially when it happens unexpectedly, we get a real reminder of how quickly it can happen.
When our turn comes, it is too late for regrets, for all the “if only” questions. Too late to think that if we had spent less time watching TV and more time learning a marketable skill our lives might have been very different.
What has really made me reflect on making the most of the life we start out with is that for this person it should have been so different. She was at one time a vibrant young woman, full of energy. There was no identifiable physical or psychological reason for her to give up on life. There were no major financial pressures, no traumas like losing a child.
What went wrong? Do we ever really know all that makes one person succeed and the next give up? Attitude, self-esteem, perseverance, determination, positive thinking, values, goals all have an effect. Which is the most important?
I suspect that one of the missing pieces for this woman was a lack of purpose, she lost interest in life, she never got excited about anything, never got passionate about a cause, a hobby.
Despite years of sincere effort by family and friends to get her to change her life, nothing worked, she just slowly slipped down the slope of indifference until she was no longer able to work or look after her own home. Eventually she went into a church run facility.
The early end to her life was almost certainly brought on by a combination of her melancholy, lack of purpose and an unhealthy lifestyle aggravated by smoking, a bad diet and lack of exercise.
My own wake up call from a heart attack in 2010 certainly reminded me of the importance of making the most of each day, hearing of cases like this reinforces that determination to live each day like it might be my last.
Whether we live to be 50 or 100, life is too short to waste a minute of it.
What is your purpose? Do you make the most of every minute?
Wishing you success in all your endeavours.
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