I am not sure if I would view aging as precious as I do if death had not been something around my world from a young age. I had three grandparents die in their fifties. I think I was only five when I attended my first funeral, as a family we would head to the funeral home and the cousins all hung out in the basement playing and goofing around.
I have memories of my grandma letting me know how she could die, very matter of factly, usually after we watched Love Boat and Fantasy Island and it was time for bed. I am sure she meant well, but I was really hoping that those nights I slept over were not the night she would die. My grandma would always read the obituaries even when we were on vacation. I guess checking out the options.
Death was real, and not so real. Thankfully, she lived into her eighties, and I was not sleeping over when she finished her time here on earth. These young experiences made me aware of death, but mostly just paranoid. I was convinced that I would only make it to thirty for the longest time.
Eventually it just became an undercurrent thought, which is good I am sure. Then a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer, stage 4 liver cancer that had travelled to her lungs. On her thirtieth birthday, she had 14 cm of her liver removed. Death was always present as a background character now, but life was fully lived by this friend. Each day and each birthday was a sweet gift that she lived to the fullest and invited everyone around her to do the same. She was blessed with almost 10 years living on the brink, with death close by, but life in full view. She almost made it to 40. She lived 39 very full years, but no more.
Yesterday my kids reminded me how very old I was, which is my annual dose of humility they give me. We tease and laugh, but then I remind them and myself that it is gift that not all are guaranteed. In Psalms we are told to number our days, or one translation says to measure our days. (Ps 90:12) Yearly, I am reminded to take stock of how I am living my days, and in turn years. Some days I know I have squandered, but overall I do try to be fully present and not miss what God has for me here and now.
I want to appreciate the gift of now, even as I look to the future of eternal glory which will far out way the goodness and hardship here. But God has given me the now to live out my days and receive a foretaste of the future, and to be His hands and feet as I walk through the rest of this journey, whether it be for one more day, or many more years. So with my grandma I do declare that I will die and it may be today, but with my friend I declare that I live today, and will live it in the fullness that was intended, and when I fall short, I will allow God to fill in the gaps.