It was already pretty late at night when the text came, along with a link to the story about the accident. One of my former coworkers, a man I’d known for ten years, had just been killed while riding his motorcycle home from work.
This isn’t the first time that someone I know has died – or even the first time that someone I know has died unexpectedly – but I don’t think it’s something a person ever really gets used to. He and I weren’t extremely close, but I knew he was a good guy, and I’d seen and spoken with him enough over the years to be able to vividly picture his face and hear the sound of his voice.
The tragic situation got me thinking, as these things often do. What was going through his mind in the moments before the crash? What was he planning on doing when he got home? Was he thinking about mowing the lawn? Spending time with his family? Deciding what to have for supper? What about the entire day of the crash? Or the week before it? Had he had any inkling that his life was coming to a close? I would guess probably not.
These are not merely morbid speculations. My intention here is to remind us that we never know how much time we have left. We never know how or when we’re going to leave this world. All we know for certain is that each and every one of us must one day leave it.
Similarly, we never know how much time those around us have left either. Death can find any of us at any time, and so we must always be prepared to meet it, whether our own or that of someone close to us. It may sound a bit cliché, but we really should strive to live every day as if it were our last.
In regard to our own mortality, we must ensure that we remain in the state of sanctifying grace. If we have the misfortune of falling into mortal sin, we must repent and confess our sin as quickly as possible. Our eternal life depends upon it. There’s nothing more terrible than dying in a state of enmity with God.
As for the mortality of those around us, we should also recognize that the people God has placed in our lives will not be here forever either. We need to fully appreciate them while we have them present. We need to show them kindness and forgiveness today, because tomorrow may be too late. We also need to do what we can to help them gain salvation as well.
Rather than make us worry about losing those close to us, these thoughts should make us truly appreciate them. As G.K. Chesterton put it, “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”
Finally, while it is prudent to reflect upon our own mortality, it’s also important to remember that there’s a life beyond this present one. Our time on earth is but a brief journey, and the pains we endure here are insignificant compared to the glories to come.
Please pray for the repose of my coworker’s soul.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord!
– Nicholas Kaminsky