Quote of the Week 34 – Living is short, learning is forever

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This week has been pretty horrible. I’d gone into it hopeful – I’d had a lovely weekend where I’d managed to catch up with two old friends and their daughter for a couple of hours, then in a madly planned Saturday off went to Ali McGregor’s Jazz cabaret for kids with my friend and her two awesome sons. Then rushed from there to the Book Festival to take another set of friends two awesome kids to see Nick Sharratt at the Book Festival. There he very kindly signed a book for my friend’s son who was there, a book for another friend’s son birthday and also took time to admire my friend’s daughter’s artwork and took it from her (with her permission) to write a lovely comment at the bottom. It made their day. And it was lovely to watch and be a part of seeing their encouragement and joy from the whole experience.

Then Monday came, and I got a call with another rejection. I was at the ice rink with some friends at the time. I was more gutted than I let on. For the first time, both my Mum and me had a good feeling about the job I’d applied for. I really liked the place – I could picture myself working there with that community. It was going to be close to where several of my friends had relocated to. I would have a car again. I’d have my weekends back. A regular income. No more zero hour contract.

Tuesday came, and I was in charge at work. It was a relentless day and we were unprepared for it because it had been so quiet the day before. I didn’t get lunch until 3 p.m. and I briefly checked my phone to notice my friends posting a prayer request for their 16 week old son who was in England recovering from a risky heart surgery. He had taken a turn for the worst and they were asking for prayer. I was concerned but I was sure that by the next day things would have turned back around again. I was so wrong. Exhausted from 11 hours at work, running to join my Mum at a book festival event I’d gotten her for her birthday, I checked my phone as we got into her car to make our way home.

My friend’s son had died.

Lying in my room next to me right now is a present I had gotten him months ago. I’d intended to give it to them at a party they’d had after his first surgery to give all their friends a chance to meet him. I’d been at work that day, and my Mum had gotten caught up in some stuff and came home later than expected to hand me over the car so I could make it over to their house before their party had ended. I was annoyed at the time but thought after the festival was over I’d text them to arrange a time to meet another time to catch up and meet their baby boy.

I obviously won’t get the chance to do that now.

At least not on this earth.

I went to work with tears running down my face the next morning. I was sad for my friends unimaginable loss. I was remembering other friends who’ve had to bury their children. And I was angry. My friends are amazingly kind and generous people. Why them? Why anyone? Why after everything had gone so well, did that have to change so quickly? And why hadn’t I gotten a job so I wouldn’t have been working that weekend (and so many others) and a car so I stopped missing out on seeing the friends I love and am drifting apart from more and more. Why hadn’t I just taken the day off? What did it matter that I didn’t get paid wages that day? I would have seen my friends and met their son while he was on this earth.

So I’m going to add to Gandhi’s comments. Don’t just live as if you might die tomorrow, live as if the people you love could die tomorrow.

And learn as if you’ll live forever. The more you learn, the less ignorant you’ll be, the wiser you’ll become and hopefully you’ll have more to give to this world.

It may even be that what you learn may prevent some lives from ending before they really got started.

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