“Life is fragile.”
“You only live once.”
You’ve heard it all before, right? But have you really stopped to actually mull over these powerful words that have become so blatantly cliche?
Within the last couple of months, I have watched the news reporting about a 19-year-old learner driver who was killed in a car accident beside her father. I have found out about close family members or friends of mine, and even friends of friends that have been diagnosed with cancer. I have sat next to a friend who scrolled through Facebook to read that a person they know has had a tragic accident and at only 15 years old, died suddenly.
So when we start to reflect on these sorts of stories we hear, the cliches start to echo a hard truth to swallow. That life is incredibly fragile. It becomes something even harder to digest when circumstances happen to loved ones and people that we know.
My boyfriend and a close friend of ours were talking about this recently and it left me really shaken up for the rest of the night. I sat in bed thinking all about this concept of one day leaving those around us and sometimes, it unfortunately happens without any warning.
Something that I have realised in this process is that I want to make five intentional changes in my life moving forward:
1. Hug people tighter
I’m not saying hold on an extra few seconds at your work Christmas party as you say thank you to your boss (because that’s weird). I’m talking about those closest to you. Your partner. Your kids. Your extended family. Your friends.
Don’t be embarrassed about group hugs (tip: if everyone looks the same direction, it’s not as awkward). Give a little squeeze when you embrace people. Hug them tighter. Hold on a little longer. When your sister goes to pull away, tell her, “nope, I’m not done yet”.
2. Say the ‘L’ word more
Stop being so hesitant about telling someone you love them. I believe it is the most beautiful and powerful thing you can do. It’s often the extended family and friends that we don’t really bother saying the ‘L’ word to. I’m saying, do it.
When you’re saying goodbye to your friend that you caught up for breakfast with, shout a little ‘love ya’ as you hug them goodbye. Send a random text throughout the day to your partner reminding them of how proud you are of them and how much you love them. Tell your grandma when you visit her next that you love her.
3. Pick up the phone
Often we don’t get to spend that much time seeing our family, but in a world where telephones have been used since 1876, there really is no excuse to keep in contact with them. And if they live overseas, don’t worry, social media has you covered!
But as great as emails, texts and checking on their Facebook status updates every once in a while is, physically picking up the phone to hear their voice and have a genuine catch-up is what really matters.
4. Never go to bed angry
I remember my boyfriend and I had an argument one day. It was over something really silly and it didn’t last very long at all. However, the one thing that stood out to me was the part where he made sure we were okay, that everything was sorted and we were on the same page before the day ended.
Life is too short to be holding grudges and losing sleep over something that can most likely be solved by communicating about it openly. Make sure you are happy with the last thing you said to someone before you say goodbye or leave. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life regretting how things ended.
5. Make an effort, always
Make an effort. Not sometimes. Not when you hear that your distant cousin is terminally ill. Not when you find out your friend from high school has only six months to live. But always. If they would mean a lot to you if they were gone, start making sure they know they mean a lot to you now.
This is easier said than done, of course. Sometimes we lose touch with people and other times, we just aren’t that close to a person in the first place, but their situation has tugged on your heart and you are left sending them positive thoughts and prayers.
Often, we are thinking about those people and care about them a heck of a lot, we just don’t have the time to actually tell them. But perhaps we need to start prioritising our lives better.
Trust me, I get it. I have been there and I still do all of that. But something I am challenging myself with lately is to not only start recognising the relationships I have with people in my life, but appreciating them also. Being intentional about our relationships with others and actively seeking opportunities to share that with them is so important.
So what are you waiting for? Don’t wait until it is too late. Go tell someone you love them. Go give someone a squeeze. Go ring your grandma.
Keep smiling. x