I circled the parking lot for the third time before finally negotiating my way in to a small crevasse of a parking space left by two cars taking up more than their share of space on either side of me. I was at Loma Linda Medical Center to visit a friend who received word from the doctor that she may have cancer.
When I arrive at her room, her sister told me she was downstairs for testing. Her sister and I shared small talk about the shock of the news, about the children, and about what would happen if the report was positive. I went down to the cafeteria for a bite to eat while my friend finished her testing.
I hadn’t see Josie for several years. Her and her kids were members of one of the Churches I had Pastored. Josie was aways helping, always wanting to serve, and her kids were just like her. Josie was creative. She made decorations for the Church during the holidays. She made my wife and I two small Christmas tree decorations on wood pedestals that we still use every Christmas.
Josie was a hair stylist. She loved helping other people feel good about themselves. I remember her stopping by the church one day to drop off new brooms for the maintenance crew. “These are the best brooms ever,” Josie exclaimed. They were the kind she used in her salon, and, out of the clear blue, she thought the church needed a set too.
I went back up to the room and Josie had just finished her testing. I looked at her, she looked back at me, and begin to tear up. Her mouth was saying one thing while her eyes were saying another. I sat on her bed, held her hands, and listened to her declaration of strength and faith before leaning in, hugging her gently, and telling her everything was going to be okay. She looked up at me with those big dark eyes the size of saucers, all filled with tears by this time, and mouthed the words, “Thank you.”
“Just wanted you to know, that Josie went to be with The Lord last night,” the text read on my phone late last evening. Less than 30 days to life. Less than 30 days ago, I sat on the edge of Josie’s bed at Loma Linda Medical Center talking with her, and now she’s gone. She had less than thirty days to life and neither of us knew it at the time.
I sit this morning, writing this post, in the presence of the rising sun. Just having watched it peak over the horizon announcing a new day, my thoughts and prayers are with Josie and her family. While I sit in the presence of the morning’s sun, Josie is in the presence of…only Josie knows.
I’m reminded today that life is short. No one knows the hour. Not to invoke fear, but freedom. Friend, if you are not free, get free. Reconcile your heart and mind every new day you get. Empty your “life’s cache” of unused negative remorse, regret, fear, shame and other junk that keeps you down. Reconcile an old relationship, an unfulfilled promise, or that undone bucket-list wish. Today is the ONLY day you have. Make it the best you can. You are not promised tomorrow.
What would you do starting today if you knew you only had thirty days to life?
(In honor of my friend, Josie – 2014)