Seven days. One week. On this day, three years ago, my husband had one week left to live. And, we had no idea.
We were in the throes of parenting our four newly adopted children. We had just moved to a new town four months prior. We were literally still unpacking. We had new house projects still needing to be done. I was now the one commuting an hour to/from work each day (as we moved closer to my husband’s work). Life was very busy…but good.
Would we have done anything differently if we had known how drastically life was about to change in one week? Probably so. I imagine we both would have taken the week off from work to have time to simply be together. More than likely, we would have taken a small family fun trip somewhere nearby. We would have eaten whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted…not worrying about counting calories or carbs. We would have spoken kinder words, not “sweated” the small stuff, allowed the kiddos to stay up later some of those nights, and simply put…we would have attempted to cherish each other for every second of those final days.
However, we didn’t have that opportunity. Or did we?
We always have the opportunity to cherish those we love most. Why does it take a tragedy, a grim diagnosis, or a life altering event to thrust us off our tushes and on to loving more deeply and completely? No…we can’t always take off days from work and go on getaways with our family. We can’t let our children stay up late every night. But, there are things we can do that express love more completely, allowing us to live life more fully.
- Study your spouse or significant other. What makes him or her tick? What makes them smile? What do they love, and what do they hate? What can you do today to express that they truly matter to you, that speaks to the fact you intimately know them (or are at least trying to know them)?
- What makes your son or daughter giggle? What do they most want from you? My guess is time. They simply want you to be present with them…playing a game, working a puzzle, etc.
- Send flowers to a friend…just because.
- Write an actual letter or mail a card…not the electronic version.
- Use words to elevate a friend or loved one, especially one for whom “words of affirmation” are their love language.
- Remember their “special days”. This may not always be obvious days – like a birthday or anniversary – but, what about the day their father or mother went to Heaven (knowing they might need a little extra dose of love on those death anniversaries), what about their kiddos’ birthdays, how about the day they began a life of sobriety, or what about the day they gave their life to Christ? I know you might be thinking, “I can’t even remember my own anniversary, let alone all these other dates.” It might take a little effort, but if you truly love someone and want to express that love more tangibly, you’ll find a way. Learn the dates and record them on a calendar (paper or digital or both). That’s all it takes.
- Surprise your spouse with a weekend getaway or a romantic dinner out at a favorite restaurant.
- Make your child’s favorite meal…just because.
- Bake Christmas cookies in the middle of the summer and share them with loved ones, neighbors, your mail carrier, etc.
- Practice doing random acts of kindness. For ideas, check out this post I wrote when I did this leading up to my 40th birthday.
These are just a few ideas, and there is certainly an infinite list we can pull from, but you get the idea. If you truly cherish someone…show that now, in the land of the living…before it’s too late. You never know when you’re living your last seven days. You never know when your spouse has one week left to live. Don’t wait. Live each day and treat each person as if this might be your/their last day on this earth. Can you imagine how much more love is expressed just by simply practicing this more often?