Grandparents taking a selfie with two grandchildren on park bench

The Fullness of Living

As a boy, I was into biology. I used to collect butterflies and explored tide pools. I stuffed a jar inside one of my mother’s nylons and captured plankton by dragging the contraption through the saltwater. Then I studied the tiny sea creatures under my microscope.

I use to waterski when I was a teenager.

I once had a sailboat.

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I used to play drums in a band.

When my children were little, I would tuck them in for the night and play my guitar, making up silly songs for them.

The last time

Every one of these had a last time; a moment when I stopped and never returned. And, most disturbing, I never knew that my last day doing them was in fact going to be my last day doing them.

When was it I took my final peek into that microscope? What day did I put my waterskis away and never picked them up again? How could I have known that my last day of sailing for the season would be the last day I’d ever sail again?

And, most important to me, when was it that I sang the last song to my children, then somehow, for some reason, didn’t play to them the following night or any night thereafter?

As cancer patients, we often promise ourselves to live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment we’re given. But it wasn’t until I started looking back at all the ‘used to’s’ in my life that I really came to appreciate what that means.

Nothing lasts forever. And last moments can sneak past you before you know they’re gone.

Living life to the fullest

It’s natural to lose interest in a hobby or stop sailing because of age or health. Bands don’t stick together forever (except maybe the perpetual Rolling Stones). And, of course, my children would outgrow being tucked in.

But it wasn’t health that stopped my sailing; a tree fell on my boat. The band could have played a few years longer but key members quit. And I guess I’ll never know why I stopped singing to my children.

Now, whenever I take a walk, spend time with my grandkids, or hold my wife, I savor the moment, knowing it might be the last.

This is the essence of what it means to live life to the fullest. Whether cancer takes us, or we’re fortunate enough to simply die of old age, we need to be acutely aware of every moment we have.

It’s not enough to simply exist. We need to always appreciate what we’re given and never take anything for granted.

Whether we’re accomplishing great things or just relaxing with a loved one, if we hang on to each moment as if it will be the last time we do it, then maybe we’ll come to know the real meaning of our existence.

We need to make ‘Living life to the fullest’ more than just a catchphrase.

If we do this, we will have discovered the fullness of living.

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