At the end

At the end of our lives, what will people say about us? Were we a "good friend, good mother, good sister". Did we make an impact, did we make a difference? And thinking about these issues now, while we are here, does that change how we live our lives?

Maybe it should. Maybe we should be mindful every day that life is not forever, that we have today and hopefully tomorrow but nothing is guaranteed. Maybe we should know that our actions today may have an impact long after we are gone, and maybe we should be careful about what that impact is. If knowing that we did not have tomorrow would make us change our actions today, maybe we should make those changes. If we knew that tomorrow we would be faced with all of the decisions in our past, and that we would be held accountable, and that we would be asked for explanations, would we have the right ones to give? Would we be able to justify those actions taken and those that were not? Would we be able to stand up straight and appreciate that we may have made mistakes but we did so with the best intentions? Would we be proud of how we lived and how we loved and how we took on each day? Would we change anything today if we did not have tomorrow?

And yet, we can't live as if tomorrow were not coming because to be so impulsive and to be so carefree would, in the end, be just as reckless as if we had not embraced each opportunity. Because living today as if there were no tomorrow is fool-hardy and ill-advised and irresponsible. But what we can do is make plans to make a change. What we can do is to take those steps, each one at a time, to make the most of today, and tomorrow and the day after that. What we can do is to look ourselves in the mirror and decide if we are happy, right now, just as we are. And if we are not, we should decide to make a difference. We can make a difference in our own lives if we take each day as one step closer to making our lives what we want them to be. And here's the key: in making our lives different and more meaningful and more fulfilled we are also making a difference to others. So that when we are gone and when people think about us and talk about us and remember what we meant to them, people will remember how we didn't settle and we didn't melt and we didn't give in. People will remember that we took our knocks and we got up again, better and stronger and more determined than ever to embrace our life. We will live on in the hearts and minds of those who know us and love us because we will have changed the way they think about life and living and loving and letting go and giving in and not giving up. We will have changed the way people relate to each other and to themselves. We will have made a difference, in our own lives and in others, and that's what matters in the end.

This is the life.