It is all a part of the cycle of life. When I think back, I guess it really didn't come as much of a surprise to me. I was a kid and I saw everyone over 50 as "old."
Guess what? I'm "old" now. My brother's older than me and our parents are gone.
Does it bother me? Yes!
Well, it did until I met Jake yesterday.
I was visiting a friend in the hospital. I had been there a few times and every time I walked by one of the day rooms I saw this older man sitting there. He was always in the same spot facing the window.
I really wouldn't have noticed him except for the fact that at that same time everyday the sun light would pour into that room. With all of the rain and typical autumn weather lately, any sunshine was a rare treat.
Jake seemed to be in a spotlight as the sun washed over him highlighting his nearly white hair.
Today I had to comment as I passed by.
"You appear to bring out the best in this day," I said.
He didn't respond immediately. He almost seemed mesmerized by it all.
"Oh, I'm sorry. What did you say?" he asked.
"The last few days as I walked by I saw you sitting here. Each time I saw you the room was filled with sunlight. I haven't seen the sun for days. You looked like you were enjoying every minute of it," I said.
He smiled politely and then turned back toward the window.
I'm usually good at chitchat but couldn't seem to interest him at all.
"Well, have a good day," I said as I turned and walked away.
"Wait, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to brush you off," he said as he motioned with his hand for me to come back.
"My name is Jake, what's yours?"
"Bob. It's a pleasure to meet you. I didn't mean to interrupt your time here."
"No, you really didn't. What good is time if you don't share it with someone you've never met before?" he said politely.
"I'm visiting a friend. He'll be going home tomorrow. When I saw you again today I just felt the need to say something to you this time," I told him.
There was silence again.
"You see, I love meeting people. Everyone has a story. I've never met anyone who didn't teach me something."
"I don't think I have anything to offer you. Maybe I'll be the first," he said.
"Every day you live a little or die a little..."
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"Well, I'll go now and let you get back to the sun. Whatever your challenges are, I'll say a prayer for you," I told him.
As I stood up he grabbed my right hand and looking up he said, "Every day you live a little or die a little."
I sat back down next to him.
"See, you were wrong. I did learn something from you. I love it."
"I'll be leaving here in a few days. I had a scare and it really got me thinking. I looked back at this past year and thought about how much time I wasted. I thought about all the things I did that got me here and decided that it was no way to live. Every day I was dying a little. Now I want to choose to live."
"This was perfect timing for me. Over the last few days I have been made aware of more people who were dying. It made me remember my childhood days losing relatives and now I find I have gone full circle and I'm losing friends. Friends who are much too young to die," I said as I looked out the window.
"Every day you live a little or die a little. It's really a choice," he said.
We sat there together quietly for a few more minutes enjoying the sun.
On the way home I thought about what Jake had said to me. Reflecting back over the last few weeks of my own life I realized I had some changes to make.
Tomorrow? I'll live a little!