It began innocently enough.
This morning, I had driven to the salon for a cut and color, my mind full of earthly cares and concerns.
Kathy applied the much-needed color on my hair and left me to “bake” for awhile.
I grabbed the latest issue of People magazine and began to browse as my mind still swirled with a nasty case of the “what-if’s?”
Toward the end of the magazine, I turned the page and was immediately captivated by a heart-wrenching story.
The next thing I knew, I had to visit the ladies room so the other patrons wouldn’t see me crying.
I had just been reminded afresh of the breathtaking beauty and brevity of this life and how often I let temporal concerns eclipse what truly matters.
A beautiful 45 year old journalist named Susan Spencer-Wendel has written a book entitled Until I Say Goodbye.
The magazine featured her story. The photo spread showed her surrounded by her lovely family through the years. She has three children. She has been married for 21 years (same as me). She is a writer.
And she has ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Rather than grit her teeth and wait for the end, she has chosen to live the life out of all the days she has left. She has traveled the world with her family and best friend, swam with dolphins, and penned her first book. Her body is getting progressively weaker by the day. She is now in a wheelchair. Her voice is slowly being silenced. Yet her spirit remains strong.
But this…this is what started my tears flowing: on a recent trip to New York City, she and her 15 year old daughter visited the famous Kleinfeld’s (the bridal salon that is featured in one of my favorite shows, Say Yes To The Dress) so her daughter could try on wedding dresses with her mom. Of course, Susan will not live to see her daughter’s wedding day…but when that day comes, she wants her daughter to have the memory of that long-ago day when the two of them oohed and aahed over the beautiful white gowns together.
That is what sent me into the ladies room in tears.
My sweet daughter Julia is 15 years old too. I can’t imagine not being here as she graduates high school and college, begins her career, marries, has her own children and changes the world for the better.
Yet I am not promised tomorrow any more than Susan Spencer-Wendel is.
And so I ask myself for seemingly the millionth time: Am I living my life to the fullest?
The temporal concerns that had so filled my mind before I entered the salon were shown to be the trivial matters that they ultimately are.
I have a Heavenly Father who cherishes me and has promised to take care of me and I have a Savior who has conquered death.
I am eternally secure.
I have been gifted with an amazing husband, children who fill me with joy, a close-knit family, and wonderful friends.
Why do I sometimes allow concerns to loom larger than my God…and in the process forget what is truly important in this life? Faith. Family. Friends.
Susan writes that her final wish is: “To make people laugh and cry and hug their children and joke with their friends and dwell in how wonderful it is to be alive.”
She and her husband John made this video. Please take a few minutes out of your day and watch. Then celebrate the life you have been given.
At the end of the video, John shares that Susan’s message is simple:
*Live with joy.
May you do the same today.