Live Like You’re Dying

crocusYou’ve probably heard the advice to live like you’re dying . . . because you are. And it’s true, so far as it goes. We’re all going to die one day.

One day. You know it, I know it, we all know it.

Or do we?

I have a friend who has a fatal illness. She’s already lived longer than the doctors thought she would. She IS living like she’s dying. And it isn’t necessarily what I imagine when I think about living as though my time here were short.

I visited her recently and she made an observation that really stuck with me. It  was about how we say we’ll do things, “for the rest of our lives.”

As in, “You’ll need to take this medicine for the rest of your life.” Or, “I’m going to wear this ring for the rest of my life.” Or, “I’m going to live here for the rest of my life.”

Well sure. But that assumes the medicine will be helpful right up until the moment you take your last breath. Unfortunately, medicines stop working. It assumes that the ring will always fit and you’ll always want to wear it. Grandma gave me her engagement ring when she could no longer slide it over her arthritic knuckle. It assumes you’ll be able to live in the same place until the end. Which would put a lot of assisted living and nursing homes out of business.

It would seem there’s nothing like nearing the actual end of your life to make you realize how tenuous and fragile any future plan is. It also makes me realize how foolish worry is. I take a medication to regulate my heart rate and the consensus is I will need it “for the rest of my life.” Except the first medication quit working back in September. And while the new medication is working just fine . . . who knows? Will I take it for the rest of my life? Probably not. And that’s a bridge I’ll cross when the time comes.

When I say, “for the rest of my life,” I suspect I’m exercising a measure of denial. I know nothing is forever and change is inevitable, but imagining that this one thing will remain true and steady no matter what . . . that’s consoling.

Which brings me to the only thing . . . the only ONE . . . that really is forever. And the thought of spending eternity with Him is consoling, indeed.

So how DO you live like you’re dying? I don’t think there’s a formula. My friend seems to just do it one day, one moment at a time. Taking life as it comes with thought and prayer doing the best she can. I’m pretty sure that you can’t plan for dying. You just see what each day brings, living, loving, and hoping as best you can . . .

Categories: Friends, Love, Miracles, Waiting

9 Comments »

  1. I have a friend who was just given 6 months to 1 year to live. She said to me last Friday, “I don’t know how to die”. I told her none of us do, we must just get about living. And we should all live as if we were dying. I will share this beautiful post with her…thank you Sarah.

  2. Excellent essay, Sarah.

    I actually happen to be dying, and while I’m four years past my predicted sell-by date, the signs are not looking good. Two kinds of cancer, and today the pain is so bad I want to weep.

    Most of life under these circumstances is lived rom moment to moment, but each moment is itself lived as if it’s eternal.

    What I mean is that the moment is important beyond preciousness, that it spans but a clock-tick, but that its depth goes into the heart of God’s eternity. There are no throwaway hours, and killing time is anathema.

    Time, for me, has become not commodity but connexion, the link to God.

  3. Wow, that really made me think. We’ve lost several friends and family, some even to the same illness but each person handled their life their own way. Gives new meaning to that phrase though.

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