On Friday afternoon, I received a piece of mail that punched me in the gut: John, the husband of my best friend from high school, Laurie McDonald, had written to tell me that she had died unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism. I must have reread the letter three times, because the words just wouldn’t sink in. Laurie had been, after all, only 56, and it seemed, in excellent health. One minute she was alive. And the next minute she wasn’t.
Laurie leaves behind two children, a daughter on the cusp of her Freshman year of college, and a son only 21 years of age. Her husband, to whom she was married for twenty-two years, is devastated, as is the rest of her family and friends.
I’ve sat sorrowfully with the news all weekend, thinking back to 10th grade at Milton High School in Massachusetts when Laurie had the courage (and the good sense) to befriend me, the new girl in town. I’d just returned to the United States after many years of living abroad (Paris; Rome; Israel). And to say that I didn’t fit into the culture at Milton High School is a gross understatement. But Laurie took a chance, reaching out to me during Lacrosse practice and English Class, and kicking off a deep and loving friendship. We giggled ourselves silly when we discovered that we were born on exactly the same day and month, in the same year. We giggled and marveled even further when, for Christmas, we bought each the exact same present: A red football jersey with the number 1 on the back, inscribed with the word “Pro” (our nickname to each other, something we started calling each other during Lacrosse practice)
Laurie helped me bridge the gap between my old life as a traveling Foreign Service brat and my new life as a full-fledged resident of a Boston suburb. She was witty, deep, open to the world at large, and crazy smart. And I loved her dearly. We talked for hours about our boyfriends, our frustrations and our dreams. She made many of those dreams come true over the years, working for Boeing, living near the ocean in the Pacific Northwest, homeschooling her kids, marrying a really good guy who adored her, and scratching her itch to play in the great outdoors via camping, kayaking and hiking expeditions with her family. I visited her a couple of times while touring with my music through the Seattle area. When we reconnected, the years fell away, and there were again, sinking into conversation just like we always had.
In the two weeks prior to Laurie's sudden passing, her daughter had gone to her senior prom and graduated from high school. I’m grateful that Laurie lived to see and share in those happy moments.
But, still: Here one moment. Gone the next.
Isn't that life?
That’s why this very moment you are in is so important. It is, after all, the only moment that’s guaranteed. Which means you need to do everything you can to meet the moment you’re in with your full heart, and the richness of your authentic self. This is true whether you are on stage, presenting (as I so often tell my presentation coaching and training clients) or simply living your life. Nothing is more important than bringing your best, most awake, most alive and most genuine self to the moment you’re in. Nothing.
This week, in memory of my dear friend, Laurie, and of the precious friends and family you’ve lost along the way along life’s journey, take full advantage of the moment you are in—at work, at play, at rest. If you have something to say, say it now. If you have something to do, do it now. If you have something to feel, feel it now. Make this moment matter. Because this moment matters. And so, after all, do you.
Some questions for you to ponder:
What do you habitually tend do to avoid or escape the very moment you are in?
What could you do differently to more fully embrace each moment?
What are you putting off that you could begin to do right now?
What could you say or declare right now that, from an emotional standpoint, could unburden you or set you free?