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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

Live Every Day Like It's Your Last One (Willie Nelson)

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

Life is.... What is it? Well, it's wonderful and happy and joy-filled and heartbreaking and sad and confusing and shocking. Sometimes all of these things in the same moment. This is a really difficult post for me to write as I am full of conflicting emotions. And yes, it is possible to be happy and sad at the same time.

This past week has truly been an emotional roller coaster. So much joy yet so much sadness at the same time. We will all experience loss in our lives. That's the gift of aging healthily isn't it? In fact we (my immediate family) has really only lost older family members. My dad died at 78, it seemed young but he was so sick with lung disease that it was 'okay' in that we really missed him but didn't want him to suffer any more. He had also told us that he was ready to go -- what a gift he gave us with those words. My mother had the perfect death (yes there is such a thing) at 88; she was active and sharp, and was taken suddenly with a heart attack -- she didn't know what hit her and we heard she was laughing in her final moment. We were all shocked but it was, again, 'okay'. She had a great life and didn't suffer one bit. I am the second youngest of 5 kids. Our lives were not perfect by any means, but our parents were wonderful hard-working people. We (the 5 sibs) have often commented to each other how fortunate we are:

  1. to not have experienced any significant loss or grief in our family

  2. to get along so well. We are close but not so close that we mess with each others' lives! None of us has ever had a 'falling out'. Pretty unique I think.

A lot has happened in my family this year, starting with a very close, important and young member of our family being diagnosed with a serious, degenerative yet rare disease. We have just had to accept that yes, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Many of you know this from your own personal experience.

Now last week - that's where the complicated emotions come in. My 2nd son & his lovely girlfriend were visiting from Calgary. Ian & I were so fortunate that he chose an outing with us to propose. I knew it was coming so we gave them space but got to take pics & even a video. So much love. Later in the week I was together with my 3 boys, their lovely ladies and one rambunctious 15 month old. We also learned that said toddler is going to be a big brother. Again, so much love, joy and laughter. At the same time my 75 years young, eldest sister was in a hospital in Vancouver after falling ill on a cruise. What a freaking roller coaster we experienced for a month. She was getting better, no she wasn't, another complication; the ups and downs were endless until finally she succumbed to her illness and we had to accept that the 5 siblings were now 4.

This was so complicated for me (yes I know it's not about me....). I was surrounded by laughter and love, in between difficult phone calls and a lot of tears. Talk about mixed emotions. My family's belief, coming from our parents, was that no one should rush home from a trip if one of our parents was to pass. In fact when our mom died, I was away and my brother was about to step onto a cruise with his family. We could hear mom's voice saying " why the heck would you come home? I'm already gone so finish your trip!" She was so darn practical. So last week I stayed with the kids for the next 1 1/2 days as planned. We had a lot of fun, yet they also cried with me. I did learn for sure that you can be happy and sad at the same time. Such complicated confusing emotions.

If there is any lesson in this, it's truly that we never know what tomorrow brings. Hug your loved ones, tell them you love them, don't get upset over things that are truly unimportant and for heaven's sake don't hold a grudge! This is by no means a new message, but definitely always worth a reminder.

Embrace today like it's your last day!

Pat xo

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Life of a Doctor's Wife
Life of a Doctor's Wife
Nov 20, 2023

Oh Pat. I'm so sorry for the loss of your sister. And what a complicated tangle of emotions you must have felt. Sending you love.


Nov 08, 2023

My sweet friend, I am so very sorry for your loss. Losing a sibling is a big deal and my heart breaks for you. Your family sounds so wonderful, loving and 'together'; I'm a bit envious.

You are so right: You can be happy and sad at the same time. This is how we keep moving and don't slump into a corner when something bad happens.

Congratulation on the engagement and sending you much love. XO Suz

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