April 29, 2023

Friday was a strange day. I had chest pains throughout it all. Being a man, I tried to tell myself they were
not significant, they were in the wrong place, and generally, nothing to be concerned about. I did act
responsibly by taking a couple of handfuls of aspirin during the day. But, by the time I went to bed, I was
reluctant to go to sleep because I was not sure I would wake up again. We will come back to this in a bit.

The day started with a nice Teachers Appreciation Brunch prepared by students’ parents. Now in reflection, my distress could have been aided by the 4 servings of the most fantastic sausage gravy and biscuits that I had in a long time, or by all the other delicious quiches and pastries I consumed. I was not being a glutton; I thought I had a responsibility to show my appreciation for all their hard work by eating some of everything.

Oh, the tasks that a dedicated teacher must pursue. Or it might have been the Chinese buffet that my
daughter and grandson took us to that evening. Again, no gluttony, I just had to show my appreciation of
their thoughtfulness by eating enough to get our money’s worth.

Nonetheless, as I lay in bed, I had to admit the pain was real. So, I got up, took another handful of aspirin,
and laid down to think. My mind went over to the activities of the day which did involve other things than
eating. I had had a really good discussion with my 6th graders about the superiority of Jesus over everything and how that truth could help and sustain us as we faced temptations, persecutions, and the difficulties of life. I had a good time talking individually with my two oldest grandsons. I was able to take time to listen to and encourage two of my colleagues about some difficulties and concerns they were dealing with. I often tell my wife that I love her, but on the ride home from school as she was telling me about her day, I looked at her and said, ‘You know, I really like you!’ I think that affirmation of her as a person meant a lot. I talked a lot about my feelings and thoughts, sharing some of my meaningful interactions with my students.

Openness, vulnerability, and love for my students and for her were all part of our conversation. Instead of
sitting at home watching TV, we spent the evening enjoying time with my daughter and grandson. I thought to myself that if I were to die, that night would be a good time to do it. Everyone I interacted with would have good memories. No one would have to deal with the remorse of “If only we had said this or worked that out.”

Eventually, I faced up to the fact that I was tired and needed to sleep. I started to talk with the Lord and
thanked Him for the good day and expressed that while I was confident that I would be in Heaven because of the faithfulness of Jesus and my trust in Him, and while I was sort of looking forward to that, for right now I would appreciate a few more days as there were still a few things I would like to see through. I have an unfinished wall I am building in the basement, we are almost at the end of the school year and it would be rough on my students to have to finish with a substitute, we are just a few months away from our 50th wedding anniversary and it would be nice to be around for that, and a few other things. Nothing earth-shaking, but just an honest expression of my heart. Having prayed that way, there was nothing else I could do so I closed my eyes to sleep, confident that wherever I woke up, God would be showing His love and faithfulness.

Saturday morning and I am still here. The pain in my chest is gone and the memories of the foods are fading. What remains is the reality of the good day on Friday and the comfort that I had knowing I could trust the Lord for whatever outcome He had in store. But also, came the thought, “What if I lived every day with the idea that it might be my last day alive?’ Now, I am not thinking of this having a morose, brooding, fatalistic, or dreading attitude of approach to the day. Instead, I am thinking of living life to the fullest, seeing God’s hand in all the little aspects of life, expressing love, and being an encouragment to others. In other words, living in a way that would not leave regrets if that day was the last page to be written about my earthly life. What a novel idea. What an impact that might have on ourselves and those around us.