A person standing in a field of wheat

 

Written by Jaclyn Fried

 

Here’s the thing I’ve learned about time — it moves fast.

 

One minute it’s here, and the next it’s gone in the blink of an eye. But through the highs and the lows, it’s all beautiful when you look back at how far you’ve come and all the incredible lessons learned along the way.

 

The Moment Everything Changed

It’s amazing how it can all seem to fall into place, but also unbelievable how quickly everything can change. Growing up, I was always one to plan. I thought things would stay the same, and that everything would be sunshine and rainbows. But one bright summer day I was quickly shown the unpredictability of life.

 

A family member of mine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, with a 7% five-year survival rate. I was heartbroken, I was confused, and I felt a bit lost.

 

Fast-forward three years of holidays, birthdays, vacations, and memories. I was standing at the door of his room as he looked out the window from the hospital bed. He had lost nearly 80 pounds, no longer looking himself, but he kept smiling through all the pain. Two weeks later, he could no longer talk. As he went in and out of consciousness, I realized the reality of it all. At 2 a.m. one cold winter night, we said our goodbyes as I watched him take his final breath.

 

I couldn’t sleep that night — I just kept wondering, “Why?” I couldn’t bring him back, I couldn’t get more time, and I felt helpless. But soon I realized that was not the life he’d want me to live — being sad, feeling sorry for myself, and beaten down. He’d want me to fight because he no longer had the chance to.

 

What I Learned from Loss

I learned to be strong, and that life isn’t always “fair.” I learned that even the best people will leave our lives too early. I began to appreciate life and the fragileness of each moment. Sometimes the best way to live is to let it be. Because no matter what happens, this life is yours and only you can decide how you react.

 

It’s okay to feel sad, hurt, alone, or to miss someone. Trust me — I’ve been there and will never be able to replace my loss. On days that I feel sad, I do something to remind myself of the things I do have. I think of all the great memories I shared with my loved one. And I know that no matter where I am, he’s still with me.

 

I learned to breathe, and take every day as it comes. I learned that we all will go through something that will change our lives forever. It was a lost loved one for me; but for others, it may be a first love, a failed class, a broken family or even a broken toe that can spiral us into something that changes us completely. It’s okay to get hurt, we all need to get stronger. I refuse to miss out on this life because of the pain and loss I’ve felt.

 

No matter what you have been through, are going through, or will go through, I urge you to appreciate what you have now because nothing will be the same in a year. The minute you start doing what you really want to do, you start living a different kind of life. Every day is a blank page, so write a good story. And that’s the beauty of life.

 

Don’t blink — life goes faster than you think.