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Live Like You Were Dying

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I asked him when it sank in, That this might really be the real end?
How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news? Man whatcha do?
An' he said: I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter, And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying.
An' he said: Some day, I hope you get the chance, To live like you were dyin.

"Live Like You Were Dying" – Tim McGraw

Isn’t it kind of funny how all your days, from the most boring and normal ones to the ones filled with excitement to the ones wrought with worry, almost always start the same?

The other day started the same, normal routine — get up, do my thing, get the boy up, fed, and off to school, go to work. Cruising along until sometime after lunch and my phone goes off, it’s a good friend of mine, one of my best friends in town.

“Hey, need you to take me to the hospital, right now,” she calmly but with emphasis said.

I knew she had gone to the doctor and I knew this phone call might be a possibility but still, the reality of it dropped pretty heavy.

“Ok, what’s going on?” I asked.

“I’ll tell you when I get to the office,” she said. “I’ll be there in a few.”

Fast forward to me and my friend driving under emphatic doctor’s orders to Cheyenne Regional’s emergency room, rolling down westbound interstate 80.

“What if it is a heart attack?” she said, fear just slightly creeping into her voice.

”It’s not a heart attack.” I replied, trying to assure her.

We talked on the half-hour or forty-minute drive down, trying to keep things fairly light.

“I’m not ready yet,” she said.

“It’s not your time,” I replied.

“I’ve been wasting my time, so much left to do,” she said.

“So here’s the deal,” I replied, “When you get out of all this your going to start living as if on borrowed time.”

About that time we pulled into the hospital ER, walked in and my friend disappeared into the bowels of the building surrounded by nurses and doctors — the doctor from our town had called ahead — and I went to wait in that sterile, depressing room.

After a few minutes I started flipping through one of the several magazines laying about the table and flipped open to a photo spread of Soldiers in Afghanistan. I thought to myself, the photographer was really good, and how I really wished I could be over there right now doing the same thing as this photographer. I looked down to see who the photographer was — Lynsey Addario.

Addario has made a name for herself since the start of the Iraq war as a photojournalist and I had a chance while I was deployed to meet and work with her. Most notably, she borrowed one of my camera batteries and never returned it, which I never thought of as too much more than just one of those things that happen in combat.

But then it hit me — my friend was somewhere inside this hospital, not sure what was going wrong, in terrible pain, a strong possibility her heart was finally getting to her, and below me an accomplished photographer, someone I actually knew and had met, out there doing her thing. And what was I doing? Where was I? Was I doing what really inspired me? Not really sure I liked the mirror reflection much, not because it was a lie or anything, the exact opposite. It was a truth laid bare, of how far of my mark I'd strayed.

See, none of us know when our card is about to be punched. There are so many things out there just waiting to take our life; from the purposeful, to the accidental, to our clocks just expiring. All of us, whether we like it or not, are living on borrowed time and the measure of a life is what we do from the moment we are born to the time they lay us in the grave.

I’ve got a feeling I’m going to start changing some things, start working just a bit harder towards those goals I lost somewhere along the way. How about you?


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About Mr. B

  • I can relate to this on so many levels. Thank you Benjamin, for reminding me of the promises I have not been keeping–to myself.