For some reason in life we think we have all the time in the world. It’s weird, deep down we know we don’t, yet we live and make plans as if we do. We make plans with people assuming they will be there, we set goals assuming we will be here to reach them, and we take things and people for granted assuming at some point we will have time to finally show our appreciation. Oh how wrong we can be with these assumptions.
I’ve shared before that I used to be an athlete…or at least I think I’ve shared this before. If not, I used to be an athlete. From middle school through college I played basketball, the point guard position to be exact. There was a time that there was nothing in this world I loved more than basketball. I loved the way a new basketball smelled, I loved hearing sneakers screech across a gym floor, I loved the sound of the buzzer at the games, and the echoes in the gym when the crowd yelled. I loved hearing my name and number called as I started every game, the rush of adrenaline I felt as I took my hand and wiped dust off my shoes right before tip off, and the pounding on the gym floor as my team set up our 1-3-1 zone defense for the first time each game. I also loved the look on my opponent’s face when I came flying at them and got a and-one rather than a charge, the feeling of dominance I felt each time I pushed past my opponents and took the ball straight to the hoop, and the way my heart pounded every time my coach called for a full court press…GOD I loved a full court press.
Although I loved so much about the game of basketball, one thing I hated was the buzzer at the end. I always hated the buzzer at the end. To me, the tone of the buzzer was always harsh…antagonizing if you will. It also seemed to always come during a point in the game when I felt I had more to do. Even if my team was winning, the ending buzzer still caught me at a time when I felt I had more to do or more to give to the game. See, I always found myself out of time with things still to do.
Two short weeks ago I was reminded of my basketball days when I found myself again out of time with more to do. March 23 my cousin was murdered, the first murder my paternal family has ever experienced. As I rushed to the murder scene and stood there frozen and shocked, countless memories of him rushed though my mind. As imagines of his smile flashed through my mind, I could hear that silly laugh that always made me laugh. I frantically scanned the scene looking for him, but he was gone. All I could do was stare at the ambulance driving away. When I realized that my cousin was gone, tears started to roll down my face. Deep in my heart I know both his body and spirit were gone, yet I continued to frantically scan the scene for him…only finding his blood on the concrete. Standing at the scene, I replayed all my good memories of him and couldn’t help but mumble “this does not happen to my family. THIS does not happen to my family.” As I stared at the bloody concrete, my mumble became a shout as the thought of this precious life selfishly taken from my family made me angry. My flow of tears became heavier, and my voice an angry shout “THIS does not happen to my family. Why! I SHOULD’VE SHOWED YOU….PRIDE.”
I’m quite sure those around me wondered if I had suddenly lost my mind. Candidly, I lost a few things standing at that scene. It felt as if someone flipped a lightswitch, and without warning snatched one of the things in my life that I hold dear. For me my family is EVERYTHING. So, what the strangers around me thought of me at that momment was not my concern. My only concern was understanding the scene that was playing out right before my eyes…but my mind refused to grasp it. My mind was adamant about replaying my last interaction with my cousin…which until a few days ago tortured me.
Just one month before his murder, I said some harsh words to my cousin. See, I am known to speak my mind…even if it hurts those around me. I won’t provide the details of the conversation, because honestly they don’t matter. While I ended the conversation with “I love you”, as I looked at my cousin’s blood on the concrete I wondered if he really knew it. See, in life we have to make sure our words match our actions…or the words mean nothing. So, while I spoke love, I had to examine whether I truly showed love. I ended my last conversation with my cousin by saying “love you, but this is how it is”, never imagining that would be the last thing I would say to him. In my mind, at the time, I was convinced that I would have an opportunity to explain why things were the way they were…life played the buzzer before I could. It never occurred to me that he would be gone before I could ever fix things following our conversation. I never imagined that the step I saw him occupy 3 times a week, would permantely be empty. Or, that the voice yelling “hey cuzzo” that annoyed me as I got out my car because I was always in a rush, would now be just a memory.
I have spent weeks crying and reflecting, wondering if life allowed a do over what I would do differently. After around the clock reflection, I reached a conclusion that actually surprised me. If life allowed me to do things differently, my conversation with him would be exactly the same. While it was a difficult conversation, it came from a place of love…a love that was shown everyday of my life. So, while I wish our last conversation was filled with jokes and songs like countless others, even with a harsh message love was at the base.
I share this to say that we should recognize our time on this earth has an expiration date. Look around you, find the people you know in your heart you take for granted and treat them better. Identify the people you always assume will be there, then envision them gone. Does that make you want to treat them differently? If so, do it right this minute.