Would You Do Things Differently Today If It Were Your Last?

takingtimeThis past Christmas, amidst embracing the joys of the holiday season with my family, I had a profound message come to me that I couldn’t get out of my head.

It occurred as a result of a Facebook group that I’d been following through most of 2012 which was setup as a community rallied around a dying boy with prayers and support for he and his family.

The angels took him to heaven prior to the 2012 holidays and his mother wrote a poignant tribute to him right before Christmas that will stick with me forever.

For this family, the prior Christmas – 2011 – was “Norman Rockwell” – complete with the wonder and magic of ALL of their (then healthy) children decorating the tree, singing carols, enjoying hot cocoa and squealing with delight as they opened presents on Christmas morning.

Little did they know, Christmas 2011 would be their last with their exuberant and healthy son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew and the 2012 holiday season and beyond would forever bring an empty spot at the dinner table, around the tree Christmas morning and for all future family gatherings.

So in her tribute this year, his mother urged the community that had rallied around them from the time of diagnosis through his final breath to look around at their loved ones and consider what they would do different if they knew in advance that this year would be their last.

And while it’s particularly meaningful during the holidays and we are frequently admonished to remember that, “tomorrow is not guaranteed…” this is a message that is not restricted to a particular holiday.

It’s a message for today and each and every day of your life.

Does your daily routine frequently have you in the mindset that you are too busy to “stop and smell the roses,” or that you will put off something you are passionate about today, with a mental note that you’ll “find time” for it tomorrow – even though you know deep down that ‘tomorrow’ will never come?

Do you snap at a loved one, get frustrated with little ones, or even dwell on your own personal frustrations in lieu of taking the time to do something meaningful that’s presented to you?

When these golden treasures of opportunity appear, I implore you to ask yourself…

“Would you make a different choice in the here and now if you knew ahead of time that today would be your last?”

I am reminded of a friend, who many years ago lost her 17-year-old daughter in a horrific car accident. She told me afterward that the night before, her daughter came into her room as she was preparing lesson plans for the next day and said she wanted a hug. The mom’s initial reaction was to give short shrift to the hug and get back to what was “really important” and finish her work.

But when she stopped to hug her daughter, it turned into a long embrace and the two of them exchanged heart-felt “I Love You’s” and each took the time to absorb the moment.

That hug was the last one she ever gave her daughter and she told me afterward that if she’d brushed it off (as was nearly her initial reaction) that she never would have been able to live with herself.

Each and every time I find myself in a similar situation with my own two daughters, husband and other cherished friends and family, this memory serves as an “interrupt” that shakes me out of whatever self absorbed moment I may have the tendency to find myself in, and reminds me that taking pause in whatever I’m in the middle of carries absolutely no consequence when contrasted against the notion that each and every moment is precious and may never come along again.

So to you, I ask…

What if today were your last? What would you do different and if you are granted a tomorrow – what will you do with it when you receive it?



36 Responses to Would You Do Things Differently Today If It Were Your Last?

  • If today was my last I sure wouldn’t have gone to work. I’ve been making many changes over the past year in order to spend more time with my family. I changed jobs and now have one with flexible hours and they let me telecommute once a week. We also moved closer to work so that I could spend less time commuting and more time doing things with my family.

    Asking what you would do different is a worth while question, the key is to start taking action after you answer it. Great post!

    • admin says:

      Yes, Eric – Action is indeed the great equalizer. Congrats on all the the positive steps in the right direction you’ve made in the past year!

  • Jaya says:

    Acceptance. Life unfolds in the moment and what you have said is the only way to live as we are increasingly being bombarded by too many people saying the same things and the onus to be social media savvy is huge. As well too many blogs etc etc…I stopped and do practice living mindfully in the moment as loss is something my body knows well. Being a fearless warrior embracing my own divine power and moving on. Blessings to you on your path Stephanie! Love is all there is and we are ONE!

  • Cyndi says:

    Your post brought some tears to my eyes – and a warmth and opening in my heart…

    Thank you

    I have made so many changes over the past dozen years that have allowed me the opportunity to move more and more into the present moment – to be available to my children and others – and to be able to slow down and appreciate the beauty that comes with each breath. Taking the moment to read your post has reminded me just how worth it it has all been and to realize that stepping away from the corporate world was really stepping into all that is important

    My Love to You Stephanie and my gratitude

    • admin says:

      And then the true magnificence of it all sets in when you also stop to consider how many lives YOUR actions through the years have impacted as a result. Much Love To You – Cyndi!

  • Kevin Peck says:

    If today were to be my last I would set out to achieve what would be most important to me by any means necessary

  • Bart Hansen says:

    This subject hits home with me. In September of 2005 I rolled an ATV. According to the medical personnel there was no medical reason for me to have survived. They had to do CPR three separate times that day, twice on the mountain, and once during Life Flight. I had severe head trauma, several broken ribs, a collapsed lung, five broken vertebrae, and three crushed vertebrae. After I recovered, as well as possible, I changed how I approach each day. I quit my job working for the local telecom, and returned to the family farm. I make sure I tell EVERY one of my children and my wife how much I love them EVERY day. I make sure I spend quality time with each of them as often as possible. While I am fiscally much poorer, I am far wealthier!

  • Mo says:

    I have discovered by staying present in the moment here and no helps to keep a certain mindset where appreciation and validation occurs on an consistent basis. Gtreat story as it really csuses reflection.

    • admin says:

      Hi Mo – You are so right to add “appreciation” into the equation, that’s also such an important component. Thank You

  • Debbie says:

    I, too, know all about the “what if” symdrome. My son died at the age of 14 in a car accident that killed all four riding in the car driven by a 16 year old. The night before, I was in the hospital recovering from a hysterectomy. My son came up with his dad and sister to visit. When he left, he came over to the side of the bed and gave me his hand. When I touched him, he seemed to have a yellow glow and he leaned down to give me a hug. I told him to be good and have a good day tomorrow. That was the last time I saw him, and I will never forget the “glow” around him that night. It has been 12 years for me, and you can “what if” yourself to death, literally. But you learn in time that you can’t go back, you can only move forward. So, what if you try to live each day like it is your last? Then you don’t have to worry!!

    • admin says:

      Thank you Debbie for sharing your personal story and being an inspiration for us all. Bless you and your family.

    • Aris Molina says:

      Dear Debbie,

      My son also was involved in an accident, a motorcycle accident, one year and two months and six days, today, it seems like yesterday. I, on the other hand, had an argument with my son the night before the accident and I rarely argued with him. The last time I saw him was on Thanksgiving Day 2011 and again, that day he reached over to give me a hug and I pulled away from him although my son has always been “my baby” My daughter is older by 16 months. That Thanksgiving I was on pins and needles as we were in his future in-laws home and one of his girlfriend’s brother who was always picking a fight with my son, so I didn’t feel comfortable in that house that day and that is why when he came over to hug me, I said “not in front of these people” and my son replied “Momma they hug all the time” you always hug me what’s wrong?” at that moment, I will never forget his girlfriend’s mother stared at me, and I knew I should have hugged him, but I didn’t. This will forever haunt me! As I have so many regrets, although many say I was a good mother including my son. Sometimes, I think I see him and think he is living on a different timezone and just get a glimpse from time to time. But when I look at his pictures “my baby was gorgeous inside and out” and they really don’t look like him. Up till now, to not start feeling down both my husband and I pretend he is away on a long trip abroad. His clothes and things are with us, we even took clothes to the cleaners after the accident and shine his shoes. I believe he is on a journey of transformation, we have had several masses dedicated to him and had a Mass of Intent on the 1st anniversary of the accident and want to have a get together on his birthday, let’s hope and pray I can get this done and pray a special prayer one of his friends gave me it is called “adopt a soul” it confirms that if you pray for this soul daily, God will reunite you, either way, I hope and pray I will be reunited with him, but I pray for his soul and always have a candle lit for him at home and visit him where his remains have been put to rest every week and put fresh flowers for him.

      We have had many vivid dreams with him but since his last mass in December just dreamt with him once! I hope and pray he will visit me for Valentines Day like he did last year!

  • Dartagnan says:

    If today were the last day of my life, I would place it in
    hands of Him who gave His life and appreciate the gift to me
    If you receive an extension would seek to enjoy this new
    opportunity of a better way to brighten up serving errors
      oa loving and next, as the Lord loves me.

    Excellent post!

  • Danelal says:

    Yes i would do things differently,and what i am going to do from now,is to visit my relatives and friends, who i have’t seen for a long time,and spend more time with my grand children, no one could say when is there last day,be bless stay bless
    Thank you Stephanie.

  • Kim Loftis says:

    Each moment is, indeed, a treasure, when we become aware enough to see the jewels within that moment. With every breath, we have the opportunity to choose presence over worry, peace over anxiety, gratitude over anger. It’s truly amazing how much that shift can alter our perspective and our lives.

    Thank you for such a great reminder, Stephanie. Love to you and all reading this.


    • admin says:

      You are welcome Kim and isn’t wonderful to embrace the fact that it is indeed a “choice” that we make, so powerful it is!

  • Raj says:

    Its really a nice post Stephanie…really worth spending thinkable and workable minutes on it……the key is…..its not out of fear if tomorrow won’t come so I have to live the today to its fullest but to just remember that I have bring my sense of present to the moment we are living…..now,today,tomorrow and everyday….
    Thank you Stephanie for this nice post…..

  • April McDonald says:

    I like what Steve Jobs said, ” Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” I have a habit now of posting sayings like this outside my front door to catch my attention at times. Another great practice is gratitude.

  • Christine Morrison says:

    Thank you for once again teaching me a new lesson and for this powerful reminder.
    I believe you just inspired me not to give up on my dream.,and we were just about to give up on it…(but we’ll save that for another time!!)

    You are so good!! Thank you,thank you ,thank you

  • Gale says:

    If today was my last, I would stay in and play with my dogs and cat, and not even contemplate going out and snowblowing that blasted white stuff that is falling horizontally at the moment.

    I try to live each day as if it was my last, and if I didn’t have a snowblower, it would be my last.

  • Daniel says:

    Treasure every minute 🙂

  • Elizabeth says:

    My last day on earth? Hmmm I would love on as many people& babies and critters as possible, play my guitar and sing, & fix a fabulous meal for my family and friends…. clearly celebrate life! Live with my passions: love, light, art, music, cooking

  • Connie Omari says:

    Thank you for getting me thinking. Yes, I do think that I would make a different choice if this were my last. After all, I would want to make the best of it. One of the empowering thing about this thought process, is that none of us know if this is going to be our last day. Hence, we can all be inspired to live as if it is. What are some ways that you could live as if this were your last day?

  • Janet says:

    If today was my last I would make peace with my daughter and grandchildren who have fallen out with me. It is awful knowing that there is nothing you can do to fix it. But I would haunt their every dreams so they would never forget me. I would look after my children who need me and hold them tight. Then I would hijack a plane and take them on a trip (they have always wanted to go on a plane)

  • kim f says:

    As I read the post then carried through and read every last item I found myself remembering the lessons I learned from my Grandparents. Love with all of yourself being the most important. I grow up with death a reallity, 2 of my grandparents survived the war in an occupied state, my one grandmother had cancer all the years I knew her and my birth father left us suddenly at 24, I was 2. Even though all this happened we never missed a chance to hug or laugh. I have tried to teach my own children the importance of love with out condition, I think most of the time they get it. We often share a hug for the joy of a hug, definitly we say and mean the I love yous we share. I wish everyone the same joy. If today were my last My only regret would be the distance that we have between us as families spread out and look for greener pastures. blessings to all who shared.

  • If today were my last I wouldn’t worry because every moment we’re alive is like every moment someone else in dying. So enjoy your life while you have. You have nothing to gain by living like a hermit saving huge amounts of money in your bank account when some poor orphan has gone to bed hungry in may parts of the world.
    Use what you have for the betterment of humanity. Create unification in your community and deal with real life issues that will ultimately make your life worth living. To fail in this is no worse than a serial genocide. I live my life everyday like it was my last day.

  • subal says:

    Really today is my last? I don’t think so.I am driving my biological machine .I am within it. we always be afraid of being detached with it. That’s why people alwaysthink over the future. I try to live in present,and try to enjoy every moment passing by.

  • Robert says:

    I know, this is not your normal post. I thought I would say what I think and not what most would like to hear or think about.

    If today were my last. I would be happy. I might rent the Morgan Freeman movie “The Bucket List” and have a nice dinner. My cause of death were I to have my choice, would be, I would go to sleep and my heart would stop then someone would discover me before my body began to become offensive. I have no children, no spouse or lover. My brother and sister would miss me, my friends would miss me, then
    shortly after a fading memory. R.I.P.

  • Ben says:

    Well i’d go out and just have alot of fun.

    If there was no tomorrow then the goals I am working towards wouldn’t matter, but because i’m looking at long, term sustainable change I work on them every day and actually enjoy it.

    One thing I can say is if I knew it was my last day then fear would go out the window and i’d do a lot of things i’ve been wanting to but haven’t.


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