But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today. Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)
Today was a day of contrasting emotions, but I would not trade one second of it because I learned an important lesson. I left home before the sun came up to travel to the east coast for a funeral. I had a lot of time to think whizzing along the highway for four hours. The funeral was for a family member, a tad older than my mom so my first thoughts were to wonder how much time I have left with her. At the services, I listened carefully to all that was said about this relative. A common theme was that he was a man of few words, who expected a lot of people but who influenced his children and those who knew him in positive ways. The most telling stories were found in the weeks before his death when he set out to make peace with all he could. While he suffered greatly from the ravages of cancer, relationships were reconciled and appreciation extended. He did not waste a minute of the time remaining to him. Over and over I heard, “I thought he loved me because his actions showed it, but I didn’t really know it until I heard him finally say it.” I couldn’t help but think, “How sad that he waited almost eight decades to make sure people knew of his affection, but how wonderful that he knew in advance he was dying and had the time to make things right.” I traveled back across the state pondering that thought arriving home just in time to join some dear women in celebration of a friend’s fiftieth birthday. We viewed a historic hotel and museum decorated for Christmas and went to dinner all the while loudly laughing and carrying on about life and growing old in probably a more honest fashion than those around us wished to overhear. I’m sure we confused our waiter as we bowed our heads for a blessing and moments later launched into a discussion of lingerie and hot flashes. We shared stories about our lives, teased each other and our friend whose milestone we honored and had a grand time. The evening had several highlights including being serenaded by a barbershop quartet, but, the best moment came when a few of us shared with our friend why she was special to us and our wish for her as she moves into this next phase of her life. There was no shortage of words around the table. It brought me back full circle to the funeral I had attended earlier in the day. What if that relative, that man of few words, had opened his mouth earlier in his life to encourage and love his family and friends? How much greater impact might he have made? When he knew his time was short, he finally spoke, but we do not know when our last day on earth will be. As long as it is called Today, don’t waste a minute. Start talking!