It's funny how life is.
Just when you think you are invincible, when you think that those "bad" things you hear about in the world around you can't possibly ever happen to you, you wake up one day, only to find that you are wrong.
When this week is done, I will have gone to two funerals: one for an uncle who struggled long and hard with cancer, the other for a friend and fellow actor who died in his sleep. And at the end of the week I will force myself to take a step back and to reconsider how I choose to carry on.
But why does it have to take something like the loss of a human life to provoke thoughtfulness and contemplation?
One morning about nine years ago, I woke up for school not in the best mood, and was argumentative with my mother. She did her best to keep me calm, but I was agitated and was not willing to surrender my temper. On my way out the door I said some pretty harsh things, slamming the door as my Mom stood frozen in the doorway.
By the middle of the school day I had forgotten about the little spat with my Mom and carried on my daily activities.
About an hour before the day was over, a secretary came up to my room and called my teacher into the hallway. I watched as they briefly exchanged words. Then my teacher returned and told me to get my coat and books, and that I would be gone for the rest of the day.
When I got to the office I saw my father looking as white as a ghost. When I asked him what was going on, he stared blankly into the dull carpeting below and said "your mother has been in a car accident, we have to go to the hospital."
Once at the hospital, we were led to a room where my Mom and sister were in separate beds. I remember the horror I felt as I saw the person in my life who had always represented strength and stamina, sitting helplessly in a bed and wearing a neckbrace.
The car ended up being totaled and my Mom and sister walked away with only a few minor injuries. They truly were lucky to be alive
All I kept thinking, though, was what I had told my Mom that morning and how, if that had been the last time I had seen her, I don't know what I would have done with myself.
I don't think I slept at all for the next week or so. I just laid awake at night, unraveling the same scenario in my head.
There are so many things to be thankful for. However, we get so engrossed in material possessions that we fail to notice the little miracles that occur in our lives on a daily basis: the sunset or sunrise of a new day, the joke that makes us laugh, the coworker that really cares about our problems, the dog who sits on our lap, the child that looks to us for guidance, the car accident that doesn't happen to us, the natural disasters that don't claim the lives of our friends and family and the moments we have that aren't consumed by worry or grief.
At the end of the day, it won't matter how much money we have or what big promotions we got at work. No one will care about the expensive vacations we have taken or the feats we have accomplished. The only thing that will matter will be the relationships we fostered and the impact we had on others' lives.
While standing in line for a funeral today, I overheard a woman behind me remark on the untimely death of a wonderful man. As she glanced around the room and into the hallway, filled with more than 200 people who had come to pay their respects, she said "Some people could live 1,000 years and still not touch this many lives."
It's not about how many "things" you accomplish or buy, it's about letting the people you care about know how you feel about them in your heart. After all, we may think that tommorrow will bring a new chance for our lives, but what if the tommorrow we are counting on never comes?
So, greet each day as someone who is happy to be alive. Observe the natural beauty of the world around you and, every day, make sure to show someone that you really do care.
If not for any other reason, do these things, simply because -- you can.