I came across something recently, something that made me realize that we really all take life for granted.
We all take life for granted. When looking at someone else’s troubles or suffering in their lives we tend to think, “Well, that won’t happen to me”. I know I do. However, I caught up with a friend of mine the other day who shared with me an incredible story, a story that reminded me that everything you’ve got can be taken away in a heartbeat.
He has a friend named Charlie. Unfortunately, Charlie was that “someone else.” Charlie passed away on December 6th, 2014 surrounded by family after a long fought battle with brain cancer.
Charlie was a good son, brother, husband, friend, and most of all, an amazing father to his two year old daughter, Olivia. By all accounts, when you watched him play with his daughter you could feel their love flowing through the air. It was infectious.
Charlie’s battle with brain cancer started 6 months after his daughter Olivia was born. He had good days and bad days, but always perked up and managed a smile when he was with her, no matter how hard it was. Before Charlie left this world, he wrote a letter that he wanted his wife Elizabeth to share with their daughter when she felt the time was right. I asked if I could see the letter and share it with the world, and she said yes. It’s quite an amazing letter, with a great deal of advice.
(I have changed the names out of respect for Elizabeth’s request for privacy)
Most importantly, live that life with love. It can all be taken away from us so quickly.
So here it is- his letter (I have transcribed it below the images if you have trouble reading the handwriting).
“ My Baby O-
I want you first to know this:
I am always with you.
Now and forever, I am with you.
The bond that we share is stronger than you imagine. Every time you feel the sun or catch that nice breeze, that’s me. I assure I am with you. Since I won’t be with you in the physical world, hwoever, I wanted to share some thoughts with you, while I can, to hopefully help you through life.
First off, don’t ever let anyone in the world tell you who you should be. You are a unique and beautiful person just the way you are. Always follow your heart and pursue your dreams, no matter what.
Do what you’re passionate about. Don’t go through life living somebody else’s. It’s not worth it.
Educate yourself. Doesn’t have to be formally. Go out and explore that big, wide world. Learn new cultures, eat new food, meet new people. The world is enormous, but sometimes people feel trapped in their own existence and they only see what’s around them as important. Break free once in a while. Take in some new things. And if you go to college, definitely do a semester abroad.
Get OUT of your comfort zone, As much as you can. Don’t take the same path to school or work everyday. Take chances. Don’t dip your toes- jump in. You’ll adjust.
Time heals wounds. So put yourself out there. Get hurt a little. It’ll be okay. But don’t let anybody hurt you twice. You deserve the best. When you find that person, the one that makes you better, hold on to them.
Watch the sun set- then watch it rise. The world’s a beautiful place. Take time to recognize it.
Time is the precious commodity you’ve got. Don’t squander it on toxic people. Focus on the people you love and who love you back.
When you’re ready to marry whoever makes you happy, try building a family. Take it from somebody who knows- your children will fill you with more love than you can imagine.
I’m only 33, and I know I’m getting closer to leaving you. The one thing I know, the one thing I have learned, is that our purpose is to love and be loved.
I finished reading a book recently. Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander. He’s got a paragraph in the book I must have read a thousand times. It says what I don’t know how to write, so I’ll leave it to the professional:
“Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows-the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional. This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or will ever exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.”
I don’t know what else to write. But I don’t want to stop. I want the words to keep coming, I want to be there for you every step of the way. I never want you to reach the end of this letter, the end of my words to you forever.
But I guess everything ends. Even the good things. So I leave you with this – When doing anything, alone or with others, here or abroad, wherever you are, own it with love. Love what you do, love who you’re with, love your work, love your surroundings, love what you learn, love your God, love yourself. If you create a foundation of love, you’ll be happier in every aspect of your life.
So I guess I’ve got to go. I hope when you’re old enough to read this that you can remember my voice. But whether you can or you can’t, remember at least this:
Remember that I am always with you and I love you today, tomorrow, and always.