A couple of days ago, my ex mother-in-law passed away.  Her body gave up after a long fight against cancer.

I haven’t seen or communicated with my ex mother-in-law for many years.  There really hasn’t been a need.  My ex and I had no shared children, and when we divorced in 1997, he… and his family… quietly slipped out of my life.

About 3 years ago, however, Janine, (my ex sister-in-law) contacted me via Facebook – and we occasionally send notes and update each other on the goings-on in our lives.  Janine was the first to tell me about Christine’s cancer – and the first to tell me that her mom had passed away.

I don’t know why – but I have been thinking a lot about death… and life… and Chris.

Today… I heard that my cousin, Clare, had also lost a really good friend on the 4th October.  He died in a car accident.  I didn’t know Clare’s friend (Harper) – but she posted a photo of him on Facebook along with a heartfelt message.  I noticed that he had a wife and a young daughter… and… I just feel… so very sad for all of them.

Death is horrible.  Not so much death itself (as I think it comes as a relief to some – especially those who have been suffering with long-term illnesses).  The thing that really sucks about death is how it breaks hearts and tears loved ones apart from one another.  It’s the loved ones left behind who suffer the hardest blow.  I hate that Harper’s little girl is now without her dad… and that his wife is now a widow.  It leaves a sick feeling in my stomach.

I think most of us fear death – in some manner or another.  Even if we don’t fear the actual process of dying… I’m sure that most of us fear losing a loved one – especially a husband, a wife or a child.  Hearing about Harper’s tragic and unexpected passing makes me hug Nick tighter and thank God for every moment that we have together on this earth.  Every night, I sneak into the bedroom of my children and kiss their warm foreheads as they sleep… and count my blessings that I have this beautiful and precious family… and that, for now, we’re together… healthy… and happy.

Life is a precious gift – and it’s short.

I believe this more intensely than I ever did.  And I believe… so strongly… that we (not just ‘us’ – but ALL of us) should not waste this precious gift by living miserable, meaningless lives.  We need to embrace life… suck the marrow out of it… live it to the full… and for God’s sake, make it count!

Too many of us just fritter this life away… too many of us plod along and “get by”… too many of us amble on dutifully and only wake up in our later years wondering:  “Was that it??”

Never was this more clear to me when I read about the Top Regrets of the Dying – their message was:  LIVE!  LOVE!  EMBRACE LIFE! – and stop frittering it away on meaningless pursuits!  Stop working so damned hard!  Stop being so bloody miserable!  Spend time with the people who mean the most to you!  Do the stuff you love!

I intend to take their advice.

To end my pensive little post…  I want to really, really, really encourage you to read the following two blog posts from two different women who – at least in my eyes – have a grasp on what it means to LIVE!  Both of these posts moved me deeply… in a beautiful, inspiring way.

The first is written by Jenn – and it’s here.

This one is written by Jill – and it’s here.

To end with a saying that perhaps you’ve heard one too many times:

“Everyone dies.  Not everyone LIVES”.

I want to be counted among the latter.

R.I.P. Christine Thickett and Ian Harper.  

And for the rest of us: