Have you ever taken some quiet time to think about your imprint on this world? It’s a practice that can bring deep and powerful emotions to the surface. Being a music lover all my life, my “quiet times” of reflection often occur while driving and listening to my music collection.
Recently, an older song caught my attention that really left an imprint on my own life. “The Last Day,” recorded by Sandi Patty, has a simple melody, but its words are deeply emotional and very prophetic. The lyrics are about living your life as though today is your last. The beautifully crafted piece ultimately ends with a very thought-provoking question: What would you change if you knew today was your last?”
Its most moving verse states, “Would you like what you see looking down? Did you give everything that you could? Have you done all the things that you wanted to do? Is there still so much more that you would?” It doesn’t matter how often I listen or sing along, I find myself tearing up each time.
Last weekend was SURVIVORville, on the fifth anniversary of the Women Survivors Alliance. Hundreds of women came to this Nashville event for a variety of reasons, from the desperate need to find sisterhood to a full rip-roaring, boot-stompin celebration of survivorship. For me, this year was like no other. Thanks to our incredible volunteers, I actually spent some time “experiencing’ the weekend myself rather than work every minute of it. I was able to chat with the attendees and truly learn about their journeys of survivorship. I heard their stories, felt their pain, and rejoiced in their celebrations.
The weekend was rewarding but totally exhausting. Like I do every year, after the reorganizing of storage and return of the borrowed trucks, I retreated to refocus and renew. As I drove home to my little mountain “tree house” tucked in the northeast Georgia mountains, that favorite song played beautifully as I carefully navigated the curves in the road.
With each passing mile, I thought more deeply of how each of us can leave a lasting impression on the lives of others. As the song reminds us so well, life is so incredibly short. Through our personal relationships, from family to dear friends to valued coworkers, we reach a great number of people. In reality we are only blessed with few dedicated people who, by choice or chance, remain a constant in our lives and affect us deeply.
I lost a dear friend a few years ago who, at 44, passed away from cancer. During her hospitalization, we would pile on the bed and just chat. Her life was filled with great beauty and blessings. It took her some time to get there, but ultimately her life blessed her with her own change and ultimate purpose that brought about much reward. Sometimes on those sleepless nights, she and I would turn off the lights and just reflect on who we wanted to be. Sometimes we giggled, but mostly it was deep chats about “tomorrow.” Often, in the quiet darkness we shared our regrets. We hoped that our souls would somehow learn to accept forgiveness for our past, and allow us emotional growth.
The disease took her quickly and her death was incredibly heartbreaking for me. Yet, I feel her spirit with me and in more recent times, I find myself having my own sweet and spiritual conversations with her about life. She was an amazing woman who taught me, in the quiet of the hospital room, how to appreciate life and impact others positively each day. While I wasn’t with her the moment she passed, I did spend those precious moments of life actually living the “today” with her and realizing the opportunity to truly impact others. I know in my heart she is resting, knowing she loved and lived with purpose. Her last days allowed her the opportunity to “like what she could see looking down,” for she truly gave everything that she could to everyone she loved. Through her kind and beautiful spirit, she left an imprint on my life and I am so blessed to have had her friendship, even for a few short years.
They say that the only thing constant is change. I am realizing that more each day as I continue on this journey of life. But now that I am in the throws of real “change” myself, I am now living with a promise to live life by loving unconditionally, with gratitude and honor, thereby making a positive imprint on the lives of others around me. Sometimes that might be doing something really big, or just simply sitting on the back deck of my home and making a call to a friend in need. I don’t want to look down one day and not like what I see. I think it is a gift to be “in the moment” and to be in a state of constant evaluation, being conscious of what we present to those few people whose lives are deeply connected to our own. I want to thank God every day for the beauty of the people in my life. I want to value them more each day and make a difference in their lives. Maybe that’s part of my imprint – my legacy.
As the song wraps, the lyrics close with, “You’d probably say all you wanted to say, but doesn’t it strike you as strange, that we’d only begin to start living our lives if today were the last of all days.”
We are not promised tomorrow, and the past is no longer, so each day we have the gift of the present: an opportunity, large or small, to imprint positively on others. If we live our lives with an open heart and mindful, selfless soul, then one day we can – and will – look down upon our lives. And we will know gave our very best…and we will truly like what we see! May you live each day like it’s your last and touch those people who are so near and dear to you. Your imprint on this world will be everlasting.