Two weeks ago marked the one year anniversary of the death of my cousin Cameron, who was killed in a tragic bus accident down by Eastern Illinois University.
My family is very close, and his death has obviously had a huge impact on all of us. At about 11 years my junior though, our age gap was just beginning to close, and so my personal relationship with him wasn't particularly close. Certainly not in the way that his good friends or siblings are close to him.
I've always had a soft spot for, and been close to, his parents though. His father, my mother's brother, was the youngest of my Aunts and Uncles. When we were growing up he was always goofing around, cracking jokes, and basically acting like one of the kids.
A couple years ago, I asked him one thing that he knew now that he wished he knew at my age. His answer: he wished he would have known how fast the years between 30 and 50 go by.
I've been thinking about all of this lately because it represents the paradox of our lives. On the one hand, pretty much whatever we're doing probably doesn't mean all that much. Not when compared to the relationships with those that we're closest to.
Yet, at the same time, whatever we're doing matters a lot. Because it's what we've decided to do with the limited time that we do have. And to waste this, to "muddle through" with anything, is a complete waste.
How many people are still spending two or three hours a day in a car just so they can sit in front of a computer? How many people are settling for "careers" that make them miserable and steal time from their families? How many people aren't taking a chance because they're afraid to fail, when all failing means is that they then get to try something else?
When Cameron was alive, he had the generosity to register as an Organ Donor. As a result, when he died, countless lives were changed. His heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and other organs all went on to save others. And of course, that meant that still others didn't lose someone they might have otherwise.
How would we live our lives if the heart that was beating in our chest was that of someone else's child? What would happen if we lived that way now?
All us are prone to getting stuck at times, to losing some direction, and are tempted to settle for mediocrity. For me, the only way I can honor those that I've lost, is to remember that the time we have is extremely short, to take the lessons of loss seriously, and to remember them constantly.
So remember, whatever you're working on, it doesn't matter. But also, it matters a lot.
If you're not already registered to be an organ donor, you should be. It takes only a minute and you can do it online at http://donatelife.net.