I believe that every day is a gift and should be lived to the fullest. A few days ago I came to realize what a gift life is and the time spent with those you love should be appreciated. I was sitting in class preparing for a group presentation. I was nervous, trying to recall my lines. Thoughts were racing through my head when suddenly my phone vibrated with a text message. I thought it was strange that my mother would send me a text message, as she usually only sends it with information I need to know immediately. It read “Call Jesse he leaves for Iraq on Wednesday for ten days.” I read this message twice and I was thunderstruck. There I sat in a classroom preparing for a presentation and suddenly my mother tells me that my brother, a pilot in the United States Air Force, was simultaneously preparing for Iraq. I kept pondering the message over in my head, wondering why was he leaving on such short notice. How long did he know this?
Then I moved on to the second part of the message, “for ten days.” I quickly counted the dates and was relieved to know that he would be back in the US for Christmas. We were scheduled to go on a family ski trip shortly after Christmas and he could still be there with us. Then I thought, what if he did not return, like other soldiers who won’t be with their families this holiday season? Then I thought of those that won’t ever return for the holidays. I thought about the soldiers who are deployed away from their spouses and kids for many months at a time. We are fortunate it is only ten days.
I thought about the short time I was able to spend with my brother over Thanksgiving break. Did we use it well? Did we leave on good terms? Does he know that I love him, and how much I look up to him, and appreciate everything he has done for me? I decided that I was satisfied with the way we parted. It could have been better though. It occurred to me that I never know when is the last time I will see him, or when is the last time I will play catch with him. Or when will my last day come? I realized what a gift my time with him and with those I love is. I realized what a gift life is. I called him later that day. The conversation was different than the ones I usually have with him. The tone was much more sincere when I departed with, “Take care of yourself, Jesse”
And he replied,“ I will.”
When I go to sleep every night I ask myself what did I do with my gift of today and what will I do if I receive the gift of tomorrow?
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.