Seize Life

On a warm summer’s evening last June, Richard and I gathered at a nearby beachfront enjoying drinks and appetizers with others who had recently moved to Vancouver Island. The air vibrated with everyone’s excitement with their new (or relatively new) surroundings. As most of us had finally reached retirement, the air was also filled with hope and optimism for all of the possibilities that lie ahead.

As I moved about in my usual chatty style, Richard settled into one spot getting into deep conversation with another newcomer. Both men had a passion for CNN, both loved to rant about the antics of a certain President, and both were looking forward to their long-planned adventures that would come with retirement.

This past Saturday, just over six months after that gathering, Richard and I met with many of those same people also on a nearby beachfront. We were there to say goodbye to the man whom Richard had conversed with so easily just months before. This past autumn, that man so strong and vital and so ready to live his dreams was diagnosed with cancer. He died three months after his diagnosis.

As Richard and I stood on the beachfront, listening to warm stories shared about our friend, and toasting him with scotch (our friend’s favourite drink), we hugged each other tightly.

It is so easy to take our lives for granted – even when we know better. It is so easy to forget that life is fleeting. It is so easy to shield ourselves in denial.

Life and love are our most precious gifts. Call a sibling. Write a note to a friend. Tell your Mom that you love her. Hold your family and friends close. Apologize to someone whom you’ve hurt (it doesn’t matter who started it). Seize life now. Do not expect tomorrow to be a guarantee.

Our friend did not want a funeral. Instead, he wanted us all to celebrate life. That advice is now my New Year’s Pledge.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

50 Replies to “Seize Life”

  1. Hi Donna! So sorry to hear about your friend. But what an excellent reminder that you’ve offered. It is so easy to get caught up in doing all the things we think we should be doing, or have to do, or even want to do. But the only way to guarantee that those actions have any long term meaning, is to pause, remember and be grateful for what we do have. Thanks. And thanks for being my friend! ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com recently posted…21 Quotes To Start Your New Year In A Positive and Hopeful WayMy Profile

  2. Oh, Donna, I’m so sorry to read about your friend. It is tragic that many of us need a wake-up call like that to realize how precious life is and how important it is to reach out to others. I think “Celebrate Life” is a pledge we can all take, this year (and month, and day) and all others going forward. Hugs to you and Richard.
    Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com recently posted…GratiTuesday: Rainy DaysMy Profile

  3. Beautifully expressed. I’m so sorry for your loss. I guess we are now entering that time of life, where the loss of loved ones will become more common. Yes, we need to celebrate life and make the most of the precious gift of however much time we have been given.

  4. Hi, Shelley – Thank you for your kind comment. Retirement is such a wonderful stage of life with so many amazing benefits. It can also be, as you rightly point out, a time of loss. Richard and I will need to fly out to Los Angeles shortly for a final visit with a well-loved cousin who has been given less than one month to live. Life is indeed a very precious and fragile gift.
    Retirement Reflections recently posted…Seize LifeMy Profile

  5. This is a beautifully written post, Donna, a gorgeous tribute to your friend. What a great way to honour him (the Scotch wasn’t a bad idea either!), and a good reminder to all of us.

    I hate those stories of people dying early in retirement, not able to live out the dreams they have been saving for, working toward, and anticipating for years. It’s a good reminder to not simply enjoy this phase of our lives but to fully inhabit every moment of it that we are granted. Thanks for this post.

  6. Hi, Christie – Life is precious and fragile. I agree that our memories can be very comforting. It is another reminder to live our lives well so that we can create the best memories possible (even as simple as a deep conversation on a deck). Thank you also for the share. I greatly appreciate it.
    Retirement Reflections recently posted…Seize LifeMy Profile

    1. HI, Anabel – You are very wise and intuitive. I had first titled this post ‘Tribute to a Friend’….and at the last moment changed it to ‘Seize Life’. The later is the message that I believe my friend most wanted to send.
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…Seize LifeMy Profile

  7. A timely reminder Donna that our days are precious. When my husband’s younger brother passed away suddenly at 55, just a few years ago,, before he even got a chance to get to retire, we decided then and there that we would not let the grass grow under our feet. We would seize the day and so my husband decided to retire at 60 and my redundancy was quite timely in the end. We try to live each day as if it’s our last because none of us know what tomorrow will bring. I’m sorry for your friend’s life cut short and I feel for you all left behind. A lovely heartfelt post, thanks for telling us – hugs to you and Richard xx
    Debbie recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Summer at homeMy Profile

    1. HI, Debbie – Your comment is an excellent reminder that retirement and old ages are gifts that are denied to many. Your retirement story is also an excellent example of how somethings that first appear to be quite negative turn out to be blessings in disguise. Thank you for sharing this.
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…Seize LifeMy Profile

  8. Hello Donna, So sorry to hear about your friend and your cousin. As we rush from one thing to another in our daily lives, we do tend to forget that our time here is fleeting. It does remind us to appreciate the big things we have in our lives and not to sweat the small stuff. Take care.

    1. Hi, Fran – Thank you for stopping by — and for being a diligent comment reader as well (truly, there should be extra points for that)! You are right about the temptation to rush from one thing to another in our daily lives. That is the number one reason that I retired early. Balance between professional and personal was impossible for my personality in my position — and Beijing was far from so many of my loved ones. Now that I am back home and retired, I need to ensure that I let my self slow-down so that my increased quantity of time with family and friends is also increased quality time!
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…Seize LifeMy Profile

  9. So very sorry about your friend, Donna. You’re right, life is short and uncertain. The best thing we can do, is live each day to the fullest. That’s what I try to do. Hugs and condolences.
    Karen recently posted…First Day HikeMy Profile

  10. Thank you Donna for this post today. It is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. I will save this to remind me that every day is a gift and to cherish every moment. Thank you dear friend.

    1. Hi, Sandie – I’m so glad that you had a chance to read this. Thank you for your warm and generous response. I wanted to respect all privacy. At the same time, writing is my own personal release process. I agree that we have been given a stark reminder to cherish every single moment — and to let friends and loved ones know how much we care. Thank you again for dropping by.

  11. It is indeed way too easy to take our lives (and loved ones) for granted. How nice that so many of you were able to remember your special friend, Donna.

    1. Hi, Marty – Thanks so much for stopping by. It was heartwarming to see so many people gathered together to share stories and comfort each other. It made me very proud of our small community — and very grateful to live here. I did think of you when writing this post. I’m sure that you recognized the line.

    1. Hi, Aimer -I greatly appreciate you reading and commenting. It’s funny how some lessons that we have been taught over and over again — we still need reminders for. Not rushing from thing to thing, slowing down, enjoying the moment, being truly present with our loved ones — and not taking anyone or anything for granted are some of those lessons.

  12. I am sorry to hear about your friend, Donna. My condolences. At this age in our lives (55+), it certainly is wise to seize life as you say. There is NO guarantee of tomorrow, for ourselves and for our family and friends. Hans and I are in Hilo, HI, this week, just simply enjoying the relaxed lifestyle of the Aloha spirit. This is only my 2nd time to Hawaii and first time to the Big Island, a dream I’ve had since childhood (and reading Michener’s Hawaii). Even if folks can’t travel, we must all do something or be with someone before it’s too late and then live with the regret of what if, and “if only I had…” Thanks for sharing your heart, Donna, and I hope you all find peace with your friend’s passing.

    1. Hi, Terri – Thank you for taking the time to read and comment while you are in Hawaii. That is very kind of you. One of the many things that I love about your blog is that you steadily remind us to get out there and live our lives now. Please keep doing this!
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…Seize LifeMy Profile

  13. Life is short and no matter how much we pretend otherwise, we will start losing people we care for. So far I’ve been lucky, but I’ve known several people who’ve battled cancer and others who are just getting older. It certainly makes you appreciate the time you have left and the loved ones you share it with. Thanks for the reminder Donna and may your friend truly rest in peace x
    Leanne recently posted…DISCOVERING THE FINE ART OF DETACHMENTMy Profile

  14. Hi, Leanne – Life is short. And somehow, days seem to speed by much faster as we get older. Remember how long summer was when you were a child…or how slowly four years of High School went? Now, a single summer or even four years on the calendar are just a blink in time! Thanks for being a regular reader and commenter. I greatly appreciate it.
    Retirement Reflections recently posted…Seize LifeMy Profile

  15. And this is why the Boomer is on the Ledge, Donna. We never know what might happen. What a sad ending to a hopeful retirement for your friend and his family. We do indeed need to seize the day and appreciate every day of life and good health we have. I do think of it often, but I appreciate the poignant reminder.

    1. Hi, Molly – Thank you so much for regularly reading and commenting. I admire your writing and I greatly appreciate you connecting. We do need to seize the day, appreciate each moment…and continually remind ourselves of this!
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…Seize LifeMy Profile

  16. Oh, Donna, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. And what a beautiful and heartfelt tribute you wrote about him! Thank you so very much for the gentle reminder to be grateful for each day, and to live every day to its fullest! I think Celebrate Life should be all of our “words” for 2018 and on! ~ Lynn
    Lynn ~ Encore Voyage recently posted…My Retirement Yoga JourneyMy Profile

  17. Donna, there must have been a reason I didn’t see this post at first…and I cannot read all the comments either. It’s hitting very very close to home. But I WILL be fine. I am focusing on my word of the year (Soar) and finding things to do daily to live the life I want… even when I wake up to 3 inches of snow and a frigid 14 degrees.

    Thanks also for your snail-mail card… that was so wonderful to receive!
    Pat recently posted…How-to Find Your Word-of-the-YearMy Profile

    1. Hi, Pat – Thank you for commenting on this post. Unfortunately, my friend was in a very different situation. His illness was not detected until it had spread significantly. At that point, it was too late for doctors to offer hope or a cure for him. I also KNOW that you will be fine and that you will S.O.A.R. I look forward to following your posts this year.
      PS – I am glad that you liked the card.

  18. Hi Donna I’m sorry for your loss and I know how quickly life can be taken. My brother was 65 and two years ago was diagnosed with cancer and within 6 weeks was gone. A healthy man who had retired to Thailand was struck down by the same disease that claimed my Dad at 66 and Mum at 63. Life is short and unfortunately we do take it for granted until we lose special people in our lives. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding us how precious life is.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond recently posted…Blogger’s Pit Stop 106My Profile

  19. Hi Donna. Please, ignore my previous “test” comment. It appears that the glitch from earlier is fixed. Might have been the internet connection at the hospital.

    Sorry to read about your friend’s passing. You are so right that a lot of people take life and every day for granted. There are no guarantees and people of all ages find out about their terrible disease or pass away too young. For good or for bad, I realized quite a while ago how precious life is and to live it to its fullest. Not always possible, but, when you have your priorities straight, regrets are past tense. . Loving and taking care of family right now.
    Liesbet recently posted…Monthly Expenses – December 2017My Profile

    1. Hi, Liesbet – Getting your priorities straight in order to life to its fullest, is very wise advise. I am glad that the glitch between our computers is fixed (I truly could not take another week in Blogging Hell)!
      Sending warm wishes to both you and your family. Thinking of you.

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