Early last week my friend, Hallie, lost her 4 year battle with cancer. She was 44 — a wife of 20 years, a mother to 2 teenagers, daughter, sister and friend.
As you can imagine, I’ve been very sad, crying on and off. And at times like this I also become very reflective about life, travel and love.
Hallie was a person you’d never forget if you met her.
The first time I met her about 8 1/2 years ago at the clothing boutique she co-owned, I knew I wanted to be friends with her. Outgoing, energetic, vivacious, funny, smart — she was the type of person that I liked to have in my life. The kind of woman that I loved having as a friend.
And while we weren’t super close friends, we were indeed friends and kept in contact when I moved from Colorado back to Cincinnati.
When she was diagnosed 4 years ago with ovarian cancer I was shocked — and so scared for her and her family. Those of you who know anything about this cancer know that it’s virtually impossible to beat. But I thought if anyone could, it would be Hallie.
And she bravely fought, sharing her story on Facebook. We all rooted for her. We all admired her courage and her brave spirit. But in the end, the cancer won.
While we all think we have lost, and in so many ways we have, we’ve also won. We won because at least we knew Hallie. We are so lucky to have had this bright light in our lives, even if only for a brief time.
As I reflect on her life I realize how she lived it to the fullest. Even before she was diagnosed she spent time with those she loved, did the things she loved (snowboarding comes to mind!) and savored life. How many of us do this?
You know as I process this loss…
I am yet again reminded how fragile life is. How one day you’re doing fine and the next you’ve been in a car accident or you get a cancer diagnosis. All of the sudden, life has changed.
Are you living your life as you want?
Are you doing what you want? With whom you want?
If not, then why?
Life is short, people. It’s fleeting. It’s fragile. And it could be over tomorrow.
Don’t wait for tomorrow. Grab life by the balls and live it. Do what you want. Be with who you want. Go where you want.
Yes I know there is the issue of things like time and money. Fuck it! You’ll never have enough fucking time or money. But you’ll always have excuses.
Fuck those excuses!
My mom (and probably my grandma before her) had 2 sayings:
▪ Wait broke the bridge
▪ Where there’s a will, there’s a way
So what the hell are you waiting for?
Ah, yes. The time and money thing. That’s where the “where there’s a will, there’s a way” comes in. There is always a way to make things happen. Be creative. Be brave. Have the courage to truly live YOUR life – not the life someone else wants you to live or the life you think you’re supposed to live. Live YOUR life. On your terms. As long as you’re not breaking any laws or hurting anyone. You’ve got one life. Live it! And you will figure out a way to make the life you truly want. There is always a way.
And don’t wait because wait broke the bridge! Tomorrow is not a guarantee, people. Start now. Not in a year. Not when you are a certain age. Cause, guess what? You may not live to retirement age. Hallie didn’t. I hope you do. But you never know. Whatever it is you want to do, get that ball rolling and fucking do it!
I suppose I’ve always had a bit of this attitude. My saying is, “you can’t take it with you”. So I’m not money rich nor do I have a lot of possessions. Who the fuck cares what kind of car you drive or how big your house is or how may of the latest techno gadgets you have? I don’t. I can’t take it with me to the next life. And, really, it’s not going to make me any happier.
You know what makes me happy?
What life is about for me? Watching the sunset over the Aegean Sea. Hiking in the Alpe di Siusi. Driving my mom and dad around Ireland and seeing the expressions on their faces as they see all the many shades of green. Having an intellectual conversation about the state of the world with my friend, Sue. Having some drinks with some laughter and some good banter with my nieces and nephews. Running through the vineyards in Tuscany. Having a conversation in English (me) and Turkish (the hotel staff) in Bozuburn – and laughing at the facial expressions and hand gestures we’re all using.
I wrote about turning 50 earlier this year – about being happy with my life. I said that if left this earth tomorrow I would know that I had lived a full, rich life. How many of you can honestly say that? How many of you would leave this earth knowing you had lived life on your terms? Would you leave as a happy person?
I like to think Hallie left this world knowing she had lived a full life
– a happy life filled with love and laughter. That she left knowing she had lived life on her terms, living a life that she wanted. Yes, I know she didn’t want to get cancer and leave this soon. None of us wants that. But, something tells me that Hallie knows she had a good life. Some might say a blessed life. She had a wonderful family and loads of friends who all loved her. She did things that made her happy.
When I saw Hallie last year I noticed a tattoo she had on her inside forearm. It said, “be here now.” I love this saying. It was a reminder to her to be in the moment. And it is reminder to all of us to live in the moment. To appreciate what we have each and every day.
My wish for each of you is that you live the life you truly want. That you do what you want. That you be with who you want. And that you don’t wait. Do it now. Tomorrow is not a guarantee.
Remember: live the life you love and love the life you live.