Recently life has been reminding me, all too frequently; that it needs to be fully appreciated each and every day and we shouldn’t be taking it for granted.

Age 44, seemingly healthy father and husband, suddenly dies of a heart attack. Mother of 4 shot and killed in her own home in front of her own children – by their father. No warning, no time to prepare, no time for family members, peers, coworkers, buddies, girlfriends or neighbors to tell them how much they cared for them, what they meant to them, how they affected their lives.

As someone who has lost her parents and only sibling, as well as her dearest friend of over 27 years, I understand the brevity and frailty of life perhaps clearly and more painfully than so many around me who have yet to suffer the loss of someone close to them. While my dear friend was bravely and fiercely fighting a 3 year battle with colon cancer, I saw what the term ‘hero’ really means. Jackie never saved a life, found a cure; she never did something that changed the entire world or made something amazing that will live on forever. What she did however, was fight a fierce battle that still to this day inspires and amazes me!

Her strength, her resiliency, her ability to cry and break down without feeling sorry for the hand she was dealt, her continuing to love and laugh until the end, her very character in the face of such horrific physical limitations and pain; made me realize how strong we can be when faced with death staring at us on a daily basis. Although she awoke each morning, especially the last few weeks of her life; knowing that day could very well be her last, she didn’t give up until she had no choice.

The day before she died when I entered her hospital room, as the doctor was talking with her husband telling him he needed to call family and get them there: we assumed she was asleep. She suddenly moved in the bed and looked up at me and said, “I’m not dying today Lyn – I’m not.” She had heard what the doctor said, and true to Jack form, she was having NONE of it! I miss Jack painfully and especially around Christmas which was our special time to buy holiday decorations for each other’s homes. It was a tradition we had for … I don’t know how many years, 18, 20; just forever it seems.

As I look around my decorated home now, at a combination of her decorations and mine; I smile even as my heart breaks, as I remember how much love and laughter we shared over the majority of our lives. I say this with as much genuine sincerity that can be put into words. Love them NOW people. NOW could be the last chance that you have. All of us who loved Jack were at least able to tell and show her how. We had a warning – we were given the gift of time with a definite urgency. We were able to tell her much we loved her, how much she meant to us, how much she touched our lives. We were able to say that before she was gone. Those that could and wanted to; said goodbye to her. I told her in those last few hours, that I simply could never, would never – say goodbye to her, and her reply was, “I know Lyn”.

Don’t wait to live, to love, to share, to give back, to make a difference. Father Time may show up unexpectedly and steal your ‘when I have time’ moments away.