When you realize life is short

Sometimes things happen that you just can’t believe, understand, or even wrap your head around. But they happen nonetheless. This week one of those shocking, untimely, and seemingly unfair events happened: it was the sudden and unexpected passing of a friend, Scott Robinson. I was introduced to Scott this year by my friend Dr. Don Christian. We only had a couple of in-person conversations, but they were interesting, engaging, and profound.

I knew right away that Scott was a skilled, caring, and generous connector and business leader. He was the kind of person you liked right away, conversed with easily, and wanted to know better and support in some way. (I teach people how they can be more like this, so it’s important for me to know and study people like Scott. I observe how they conduct themselves, connect with others, and build powerful networks that help them make an impact in the world and create success in whatever they are doing.)

But that’s the business side of things. There are also more human and profound aspects of knowing — and then suddenly losing — people who are this extraordinary. And that has sparked some thoughts and questions I ask you to consider:

If you suddenly left this earth, would anyone notice or care? Would you be missed? How would you want to be remembered? How did you make people feel? Did you tell the people you care about how much you really cared? Did you help them at every opportunity? Did you leave behind happy memories? Did you spend your time wisely, doing what you loved? And did you complete whatever mission you were sent here to complete? Did you do all you could in the time you were given? Did you make an impact? Did you give back in some way? Did you give love, accept love, and embrace the good moments and experiences? Did you do your very best to forgive and let go of the crummy, unfair stuff?  Did you live your best life?

If not, maybe it’s time to make some changes.

We just don’t know how much time we have nor do we know when it’s our time to go. Some of us will be snatched away far too early. Some of us will leave a little at a time. Some of us will linger far longer than we want.  We don’t get to choose.

I do know this: we can all learn something from Scott’s sudden passing and be as intentional as we can be in living our lives; connecting  with care and authenticity, being generous with our time and talents, and enjoying the time we’re given.

As a quick side note and to close, I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and was presented with some happy test results. Wasn’t anything serious but could have impacted my health if the news had been not so good. The doctor’s parting words to me were, “It’s all good news. Go enjoy life.” I loved that this physician, who tends to be very clinical and methodical, took a moment to say this to me. It was both welcomed and timely.

I’ll say it to you as well:  Go enjoy life. And while you’re at it, connect with intention and make a difference.

And so long, Scott. You made a difference and you were loved.

14 Responses to When you realize life is short
  1. Lesley Guthrie
    September 6, 2013 | 11:09 am

    Thank you for sharing this and I’m sorry for the loss of your friend.

    We are all placed on this earth for a reason and we need to determine our purpose in life.

    I’m delighted to hear that you got a clean bill of health from your doctor.

    • pattid
      September 6, 2013 | 12:35 pm

      Thank you, Lesley! Yes, we are all here for a reason – even if we don’t understand, recognize, or appreciate it.

  2. Mike O'Krent
    September 6, 2013 | 11:14 am

    Well written and so poignant regarding Scott’s death, Patti! The questions you raised in paragraph four are spot on. One to add is, “Did you share valuable life lessons from your life by sharing your stories with others?” I listen to such stories often.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts … and your life lessons.

  3. pattid
    September 6, 2013 | 12:36 pm

    Thank you Mike! The question you add is a really good one! Sharing our stories — and our life lessons as well — are good additions to the legacy, memories (and, dare I say it, LEGENDS) we can leave behind!

  4. Nancy Humphreys
    September 6, 2013 | 4:24 pm

    Thanks Patti, we all need this kind of reminder once in awhile! I lost three friends this year – all a long-time part of my life. Totally agree with your message! Glad you also got good news from your doctor.

    • pattid
      November 7, 2013 | 12:20 pm

      Nancy, how fantastic to hear from you! Thanks for taking time to comment. As we get older loss is definitely part of life, but doesn’t make it easier. Lots of lessons in that. Be well, my friend! (And a new book is on the horizon! More on that later…)

  5. Dianna Amorde
    September 6, 2013 | 5:49 pm

    I’m sorry I never had a chance to meet such a standout human being, but I thank you Patti for giving me a glimpse of the gifts he shared while on the planet. Your comments remind me of how I felt when Sue Cullen left us too soon. Her work on Mattering fits with your questions and insights too.

    I’m thrilled to hear about your test results and will take you up on your challenge to go enjoy life this weekend, as I allow myself to be inspired by your questions and post.

    • pattid
      November 7, 2013 | 12:19 pm

      Dianna, thanks for this thoughtful comment, which I just now received (November 7!). Yes, when you think of people who have left us so soon and unexpectedly, it can knock us right off our foundations. Sue was so special; I just talked about her with Cindy yesterday. Life is short! We have to make it matter and make it fun, meaningful and impactful. You do that every day.

  6. Jeanne Guy
    September 7, 2013 | 10:24 am

    Patti –
    It always stops us in our path, doesn’t it? So sorry for your loss and appreciate both you and your thoughtful and important advice. I have a dear friend who is terminally ill and we only have a few more months with her. I wake up every day grateful for having had her in my life and soak up every minute I can with her in these last months. I’m glad to feel the love I have for her, and therefore grateful for the ability to mourn her loss when the time comes.

    Here’s to waking up to death so we can be free to live the life we’ve been given.

    Much love to you, dear Patti.

    • pattid
      November 7, 2013 | 12:17 pm

      Jeanne, thank you for this beautiful comment. I just today (November 7) received it. The WordPress gremlins have been so full of mischief lately! Yes, here’s waking up to what we don’t know so we can enjoy what we do have (this moment right now) and opportunities to tell people how much we love and value them.

  7. Amy Praskac
    September 9, 2013 | 4:29 pm

    A sad reminder that we never know when That Day will come. I’m so sorry for your loss, Patti, the depth of which cannot be measured by the time you spent with Scott, but rather by the unfulfilled potential of other conversations the two of you might have enjoyed.

    In my organizing practice, I encourage people to simplify their lives so that they may focus on what matters. You doctor already knows what matters! Glad he gave you good news.

    • pattid
      November 7, 2013 | 12:15 pm

      Amy, thank you for these wise words and for your advice. Your services are universally important. You just never know.

  8. Kelli Kelley
    September 10, 2013 | 5:39 pm

    Patti,
    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for this very important reminder. It seems like life is in fast forward for me most days. Glad I slowed down to read this valuable reminder! Congratulations on your clean bill of health. My best wishes to you always! Kelli Kelley

    • pattid
      November 7, 2013 | 12:12 pm

      Kelli, it’s so great to hear from you! Appreciate you taking the time to read my post and comment.

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