We have so much to learn from the dying

Carpe Diem is my life philosophy. It’s a complete sentence that sums up my approach to living. The phrase comes from the Roman poet Horace (23 BC), and literally means “Pluck the day“, though it’s usually translated as “Seize the day“.

NomadicChoiceCarpeDiemTattooIf you’ve read my bio you know that my younger sister, Julie, recently died of brain cancer. Discovering you have fast growing tumors in your head is a horrible sentence.  She was only 46 when the verdict came down.

Robbed of so many things the rest of us take for granted.  She would not get to see her most treasured gift, her twelve-year-old daughter, grow up or get married. She wouldn’t even make it to see her even finish the first semester of middle school. What a rip off.

During the months leading up to Julie’s passing we would spend a lot of time together. Sometimes we would just sit together and other times we would have in depth talks.

What I learned is this:

We have so much to learn from people who are dying. Their time is more limited and defined and so they are clear about what really matters. Time, relationships,  experiences and being fully present are themes to name a few.

One of the most gut wrenching conversations my sister and I had was during a walk in Golden, Colorado.

On this day we attended a fund raiser organized for her. Friends and colleagues of hers from United Airlines had organized a rock concert.

A hall was rented, an all employee rock band from Colorado agreed to play and several hundred people turned out. When we wheeled her into the venue there was a huge round of applause. Julie was very outgoing, friendly, fun and well-liked by nearly everyone she met. She loved seeing and catching up with the people she loved and at the same time it was an incredibly emotional day.

She essentially said  “Our time is limited: Enjoy yourself while you have the chance”

Julie wanted to get some fresh air so we left the venue to go around the block and during this outing she wanted to stop and talk. She shared through tears that she had anxiety and fear about dying and she ‘wasn’t ready to die’. She didn’t have enough time.

Her regret was that she wouldn’t see her daughter grow up, that she hadn’t traveled more, she hadn’t visited the places she wanted to go and made mention of several that were top of mind in Africa and in Europe.

In this conversation she essentially said “Our time is limited: Enjoy yourself while you have the chance”. So because of Julie, I INKED the life philosophy on my left wrist and it has become a constant reminder of my little sister and of our conversation that day in Golden.

A permanent reminder of the life motto that now gives me so much clarity.


Have you experienced the loss of someone close to you?  What did you learn from them?  From the experience?  Would love to know your thoughts.

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