Life Lessons

May 19, 2011
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People have always told me that death is inevitable. That when people I love die, I’ll remember the littlest moments. No one ever told me that those moments would be so significant in my life. I never knew these thoughts would occur so soon until someone special in my life disappeared.

I was sitting on the couch in Mike’s house, waiting for our lesson to start. Mike Daniel was a close family friend who had offered to give me music lessons. No one, least of all me, thought he would give me lessons in life as well. Between all the talk of string names for the bass guitar and playing different styles of music, we talked of life, how we were living it, and what we believed happened after our lives were over.

I never knew I would become so close to Mike in such a short time. I was glad to be getting music lessons, but I knew they wouldn’t last long. Mike was in the last stages of colon cancer. I knew enough about cancer to know that he didn’t have much time left. It wasn’t until the last day I spent with him that I knew Mike would stay in my heart forever.

We didn’t really feel like playing music that day, so Mike and I decided to go out for ice cream. I could see he was getting worse, but I tried to push that to the back of my mind. We got our ice cream and drove back to my house. We were getting close to my house and I turned to Mike.
“Are you scared of dying?” I asked nervously. I was looking down at my ice cream as I said this. I wasn’t sure if it was okay for me to ask that.

He proceeded to tell me that death isn’t something to be afraid of. He said that he had lived his life the best he could and he was proud. He told me that he wasn’t afraid of dying. It was the fact that he would be leaving people behind that scared him. Mike said when it was his time; he was going to embrace death, not shy away. Those words stuck with me that day, and today they speak louder than ever in my head.

A few weeks after our talk, my mom took me to Hospice. She said it was Mike’s time. My goodbye was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I stood by Mike’s bed and touched his hand. I made a silent vow to him that I wasn’t going to waste my life. I was going to try to be the best I could be, and he inspired me to do so. I left him that day, a better person.

Mike died two days later. He taught me the most important lesson I think I’ll ever learn. The acceptance that death is really there and that it can happen whenever. It’s a lesson most people don’t learn until the very end. I was blessed to have known someone who saw the world differently than most. My vow I made to him that day is truer than ever. Life is short, and I don’t plan to waste a single minute of it.





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