Life is Fleeting: Let’s Cherish Each Day We Have With One Another
Death has been called the great equalizer.
Death doesn’t spare and death doesn’t care.
My coworker Camileo L. Bagsby died on July 16. He was 56 years old.
I didn’t know him well enough to call him a real “friend,” but I felt compelled to attend his Celebration of Life last week. I’m so glad that I did.
Death has been called the great equalizer. Death doesn’t spare and death doesn’t care. It is sometimes considered a welcome relief for those who live in daily, chronic pain, and it is oftentimes a shock for those who are taken without warning or provocation. Regardless and unrelenting, it comes.
Camileo and I met a few years ago at Bush Airport where he was a well-respected Civil Inspector. I interviewed him for a story I was writing on a runway rehabilitation project that he had a lead role in, and we became acquainted. We hit it off well and over the years, we bumped into one another on occasion. The exchanges were always brief and cordial.
I was sitting in a business meeting last Wednesday when a mutual colleague broke the news of his passing. I was stunned.
In Camileo’s memorial service, God reminded me once again of the fragile nature of our all-too-human lives and the need to cherish those we hold close, be respectful to all, and be appreciative of our many blessings.
I listened to Camileo’s family, friends, classmates, fraternity brothers and brother-in-law tell wonderful stories about him and his character, and about that million-megawatt smile of his that lit up many a room. He leaves behind an indelible impression on so many! As I scanned the church, my eyes were greeted by young and old, black and white, men and women, all who had been touched by him in some special way.
Love Notes from God
God offered up to me several cautionary love notes in that service, and I’d like to share them with you. This most certainly applies to our spouses, and it also extends out to families and friends and coworkers. We are all planted here for a reason – may we bloom and grow and reap a great harvest for our Creator.
1. Slow Your Roll and Enjoy the Moments – football Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith is the NFL’s all-time rushing leader. But in the game of life, I feel like I’m sometimes near the top of the heap myself. I’m in a state of perpetual motion. Rushing through a phone conversation and on to the next. Rushing through my workout so I can grab a quick bite, take a quick shower, sleep fast, and restart the daily cycle on the morrow! Rushing to beat a red light only to be slowed down by the next one. I need to pause every now and then and soak in more moments, to be more observant of where I am right now. We all need to notice and breathe in the beauty of God’s incomparable creation. It is all around us in abundance and we just walk on by. So many colors, and sounds, and experiences - and people. Especially people!
2. Be Sensitive to the Needs of Others – when you come across that cranky neighbor, or coworker, or even spouse, remember to extend a little grace. Where would you or I be without that very same grace from the Father? We don’t necessarily know what the other person is dealing with, so turn that other cheek. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Recognize that your response can please God, and that alone makes it worth it.
3. You Don’t Know When – on average, there are more than 6 million passenger car accidents in the United States each year. Likewise, annually more than 800,000 people in the U.S. have heart attacks. Other unexpected causes of death are drowning, falling, fire, and more. The point being – we don’t know when. So, we need to cherish each day and be good to one another.
The Conclusion of the Matter
The death statistics are mind-boggling and 100 percent. Each year, 65 million people die on Planet Earth, about 120 people every minute. Roughly one death each minute is due to medical error.
Every one of them – and us - has an immortal soul that is so very precious in the sight of God. I wonder how many of them, if they could have do-overs, would reprioritize their lives? My point – no man or woman knows the day or hour in normal circumstances.
For those of us who yet remain, what about us? Is there a phone call we need to make, a debt we need to pay, a score we need to settle, or an act of restitution we need to perform?
In Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, NIV, King Solomon told us: I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil - this is the gift of God.
In Colossians 3:12-14, the Apostle Paul wrote: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
I found myself wistfully wishing I had spent a little more time in conversation with Camileo, instead of always rushing off to the next assignment or next appointment. In his memorial program, his wife’s Wilhelmina's beautiful tribute said in part, “As I always told you the best part of our marriage was our companionship and I’ll miss our daily talks. You made me a better person and I gained so much strength and wisdom by being with you. I NEVER questioned your love for me because you told me you loved me nearly everyday or showed me by the things you did big and small.”
Well-done, my good and faithful brother. You used your life, your 56-year gift from God, and you used it well. Well-done.