What If...

Sometimes it takes moments of freight to get us to stop and think "what if.."
What if that was the last time I got to say goodbye...
What if that was the last picture I'll ever have together with them...
Did I say everything I wanted to say ?
Did I leave no stone unturned? 
Do they know how much they mean to me? 
Do they know how much I care? 
Will there be unanswered questions someone else will take to the grave on my behalf. 
Life. It's such a fragile thing. Life as we know it can literally be changed in the blink of an eye.
I'm reminded of this each time I come upon a car accident (seems to be a pretty frequent occurrence here in Atlanta). Each time I see someone else has been  diagnosed with cancer during a routine doctors visit. Or the stories of friends loosing babies Or when someone, who appears to be perfectly healthy, was here yesterday and gone today. It shakes me. It causes me to think and wonder. 
In our culture of constantly being connected and kept on the go it's easy to go weeks, months or even years without thinking about the "what ifs". 
For a family who made the effort to do pictures every Fall, in the moment it may have been for their holiday card or to document their children growing and changing each year. Some years may have been harder due to time and schedules and other due to the pocketbook but regardless of what life threw them.. they made it happen.
Then five years in they decide to create an album of their family and these moments they shared and how their kids have changed. 
Little did we know that weeks later their every day lives would take a drastic turn... life would be turned upside down. A six letter word that stings and sounds like one with four letters... CANCER.
The leading man in the home visited the ER with a massive headache and was given the diagnosis of brain cancer.
The ground shakes. My heartbreaks. In that moment I realized that last mini-holiday session and the importance of those pictures. With one word they went from holiday pictures to priceless memories. 
They cling to hope and faith. They face the hardest year of their lives. The cancer responds. Hope rises. Then news breaks, the face a setback. Hope to start rehab takes a drastic turn and the doctors arrange for hospice care. 
I'm shaken again. My heart is in pieces. And again I'm reminded of the fragility of life. Not to take a single day for granted. 
The importance of "disconnecting" from busy and "reconnecting" to the truly meaningful things in life. To intentionally escape this train of "busy". To engage in real meaningful conversations with those I care about. To reach out and give a hug to a total stranger that's carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Look up rather than down. To disconnect and engage. To become intentional in the decisions I make personally and professionally. To be purposeful in this life I've been given and to make sure my gifts, abilities and breath isn't wasted. 
So what's the practical application look like?
I'm not sure. I can say it takes discipline. I'm no where close to perfecting this but my goal is to strive to be more intentional and to share it so others will hold me accountable. Big picture living rather than the here and now.Living for today rather than for yesterday or tomorrow. 
I don't want to leave pages unturned. I want to be proud of the life and have a legacy to look back on when I'm 80. My deepest desire is to see that the way I served and loved others went far beyond those I single handedly was able to touch and they were inspired to reach out and do the same. 
This past week, in the same evening I received the update on the precious family above, I faced my own mini-family emergency.
I was shaken to tears. Tears of fear and the What Ifs racing through my mind.
It stirred me to my core. I'm still shaken by it. My Grandpa whom is the man I admire the most and is someone whose had the greatest impact on who I am today... 

He "went missing" for awhile yesterday. No one had been able to reach him all day. Upon further investigation his phone was left at home but he was gone. (The importance of being connected and carrying that little phone still doesn't equate the same for him) as it does for everyone else. We got exceptionally worried. The entire family became concerned. He'd been seen around town during the day but as the night drew closer it became colder, the snow drifts higher and he was no where to be found.

In the midst of everything it was frustrating not to be able to simply call and hear his voice to know he's alright. By God's grace he was kept safe and was perfectly fine last night- but it got me thinking...

We discovered he'd made a trip to a neighboring, larger town about an hour away with his neighbor whose become a dear friend to him.

Once the cloud of worry and stress dissipated I realized the real reason he went to Chadron- it was his birthday! While I was simply reaching out with a phone call- I hadn't taken the time to figure out how to plan a birthday dinner or have cake delivered with icecream. As family (myself included) we wanted to reach out with a phone call and grew concerned and near the verge of anger (for the lack of response or an answer) when that call wasn't answered.

BUT it was his friend that made time to celebrate his birthday. Celebrate his life in a special way. A birthday dinner celebrating him and the effort in making him feel- as special as he makes the rest of us feel.

Reality check?

Reminder that sometimes all the things we fill our daily lives with that seem important in this very moment may cause us to miss out on the people and moments that are nearest and dearest to our hearts.

Maybe, just maybe it's time to stop and ask the hard questions. Why does it take these types of situations and reality checks to put (daily) life in perspective?

Asking hard questions and taking actions for change is sometimes Scary and Hard..

On the contrary:

Thoughts to ponder:

What's at risk if we continue today like we lived yesterday and don't MAKE the time to CREATE change.