Life can change in an instant. We’ve all heard this phrase and we know it’s true. But does it make us change our behavior at all? Should it? I was incredibly saddened this week to hear about the family killed when heavy monsoon rains triggered water and debris to rush through a canyon near a popular swimming hole. What an unbelievable loss. In total, nine people from the family were killed. Just tragic, sad, and unexpected.
The Garnica story is one of the more heart-wrenching things I’ve heard, yet people all around me are facing unexpected obstacles whether it be the loss of a job, a challenging health diagnosis, or the betrayal of a spouse. Life is hard. Of course there’s nothing that can be done to avoid what is fated but might we do a little more to prepare us for these dark days? Our past trials equip us for future trials. Persevering strengthens us. If we noted these times of struggle and triumph, might we draw strength from them again and again?
Yesterday I was chatting with a lovely senior citizen. I’ve spoken with her before and she’s one of my favorites at the senior community where I volunteer. The topic of the day was accomplishments. Early in the discussion, she shared about her love of writing. She probably would have sought a profession as a writer but she says at the time, the only career track for women was nursing so that’s what she did. However, her love of writing endured and she repeatedly submitted stories to the local newspaper and community magazines. Many of her stories were eventually published. She met her goal of becoming a published author! And while she was proud of this fact, she also let it be known that her pile of rejection letters far exceeded her published works. She achieved through perseverance.
Perhaps her spirit of perseverance prepared her for the biggest battle she’s had to face. About 10 years ago, she woke up and was barely able to move. Her husband rushed her to the hospital where she spent eight days in a coma. When she woke up, she was unable to feel or move her legs. Just prior to the incidence, she was an active and vibrant retiree. She and her husband had played a round of golf and then went for a long bike ride the day before the incident. As it turned out, she was stricken with West Nile Virus. Her health calamity was all due to a tiny mosquito bite. She was lucky to be alive. The doctors credited this to her active lifestyle and overall strength prior to the virus attacking. However, the doctors did not believe she’d walk again. But she was determined. Once again, her tenacity proved to be her saving grace. She is walking today (albeit with a walker) and is seemingly no different from her peers.
A mosquito bite, a freak natural accident…life is incredibly unpredictable. Sometimes it seems that all we can do is apply ourselves the best way we can today, learn our lessons, and use what we've learned to our advantage in the future. Do all of this but also prepare for your future, however it might turn out. Make sure you have a will, a trust, and your personal memories preserved. These are all things we can and should do for our benefit and for the benefit of our loved ones. Embrace life, live it to the fullest, but be mindful that it can all change in an instant.