Someone from the church where I work was diagnosed with cancer the second week of November and was given four days.  Four days.  I ran into Mary at a local coffee shop the day after her diagnosis.  I told her that I was praying for her (and I was) and I asked her how she was doing.  She looked great and I thought perhaps she must be in shock or denial.  She came over to me at church the week before Christmas and gave me a big hug.  I told her she looked good and she smiled with complete peace in her eyes and said that she felt good.  The weekend after the New Year I ran into Mary again and she looked just like she always has in the five years or so that I’ve gotten to know her.  She looked healthy, was wearing that sweet smile she always did and she looked filled with peace and contentment.  Mary’s sister said that she just keeps on going and I told Mary she was like the Energizer Bunny.  Mary laughed her sweet, quiet chuckle and said that she was feeling pretty good.  Tomorrow is Mary’s funeral.
As I was thinking about Mary this morning I was thinking about what it would be like to be told that I have four days to live.  It seems prudent to live everyday like it may be your last, but we rarely do that do we?  I don’t.  But as I did in a past post (What’s Your 31?), I want to honor those who go before us by trying to live more intentionally.  What would I do if I was told I had four days to live? Of course none of us knows what we would REALLY do if we were told that, but here is what I think I might do:
1.       I would slow down.  Slow down to see how pretty the snow was today.  Slow down to hug my kids.  Slow down to text my husband meaningful, genuine and well thought out words that shared my love for him.  I think I would finally be able to quit chasing and doing and going.  One doesn’t probably feel the need to be “efficient” when one has four days left.  One probably wants to be present and appreciative of what is in front of them. 

2.       I would with passion and desperation tell my family and closest friends that I believe with all my heart, mind and soul that Jesus Christ came to earth and died on a cross so that this little glimpse of a life wouldn’t end for us in a dirt hole.  I would tell them finally, because I wouldn’t have anything to “lose” (them telling me I’m judgmental or a fanatic or worrying about what they might say or think of me).  I would tell them I truly believe that if they believe in Christ too, they would get to have what Mary had and has; complete peace in the face of death and a pain free, trouble free existence in heaven forever.  Why wouldn’t I tell people I love and care about that if I truly believe it?

3.       I would eat WHATEVER I wanted for four days.

4.       I would call my parents to thank them for their awesome influence in my life and my faith.

5.       I would write letters to my kids and try to tell them what I have prayed about for them over the last 16 years: for their future spouses, for their careers/calling from God, for good health and safety, for them to be confident sons and daughters of the King, for them to always have God’s peace and for them to have a meaningful, genuine and powerful faith in Jesus Christ.

6.       There isn’t much I would have to say to my husband. After knowing each other for 28 years we know each other inside and out.  With whatever time I would have left after 1 – 5 above was done, I’d want to just sit in my husband’s arms and with my kids around us (with popcorn with extra, extra butter) and watch all our favorite movies together (but only the funny ones).

“Dear God, it is always so depressing to write these awful lists.  Thinking about how I’d spend the last 4 or 15 or 31 days on this earth makes me cry and I do not want to think about it.  But Mary’s life and death deserve to be honored.  If I am going to live life intentionally I should be thankful for opportunities to think about how I should do life differently.  Help me God when I think of Mary these next several weeks to remember this list.  Please help me to try to live out of the reality that life is short, no matter how long we live.  Please comfort Mary’s family as they miss this sweet, godly and gentle sister.  And thank you for the gift of peace you gave Mary even in the face of death.  It was a gift not only to Mary but to everyone who knew and loved her.  In Your Name, Amen.”