I am sixteen, and a few weeks ago I was leaving work after closing out to finally get home. It had been one of those days in which everything went wrong that possibly could. School had been rough, work was slammed, and frankly I was overwhelmed with life. I climbed into my Blazer, turned up my music, and hurried off with the cool night air blowing in my face. Soon I realized a small, yellow note was tucked under my windshield wiper. I didn’t really feel like stopping; it was probably another ad anyway that could be blown off. Something told me to stop, though, so I pulled over at Goodberry’s and picked it up. It said, “I don’t know you, but if you knew Arch and live anything like he did you’re awesome. Peace, David.” At the bottom was written, “Faith, Hope, and Love.” I froze as I realized how this person much have seen the sticker on my back window for Arch McFadyen, my brother’s best friend who died a year ago at age twenty.
I just stood there for a few minutes, starting to think about my day, and how frustrated I had been. I thought of the last few days and how I went through them like a robot, not taking in the little moments. Most of all, I thought of Arch and a lesson he taught everyone: to live every day like it’s the last. Arch was the kind of guy that didn’t ask a friend to go to the lake tomorrow, but today.
Standing in that parking lot, the same as I had for months now, the realization of life hit me hard again. I thought of what I was doing with my life, like school, work, and extra-curricular activities. Was I truly enjoying everything? Was I working too much? I thought I should not concentrate on making a living when it could all be gone tomorrow if I die, but to concentrate on making a life because that will live on in many other people’s lives.
As I got back in my car, I noticed the next song that played on my CD: “Last Day of My Life”, by Phil Vassar. I then wondered what people would remember me for when I died. Would it be a chatty girl? A party-er? A genius? Or would it be for faith, humility, perseverance, or kindness? What mattered most in life?
I looked back on my day, and remembered my mistakes. What about them? Mistakes are not to be forgotten or regretted, but learned from and accepted. A person could go through life as a schedule, ordinary, with no surprises and no miracles. But each person has the choice to make life full of surprises and see everything as a miracle. Reading that short note a few nights ago influenced my life like few acts ever have, and it reminded me of my favorite quote: as Arch said, “Love God, love life, love people.”
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.