My mother died at 46 years old. I reflect on her age of death after my birthday every year. Her age, 46, is a number that stays with me and colors my perspective. I understand that I do not know how much time I have left on earth. I could have another four years-or another forty. I could have less than a week. I just don’t know. My time here is limited. And because of that, I know I cannot waste it. I can shoo away frivolous matters with ease. I remove myself from environments and relationships full of misery and strife with no hesitation because a gentle voice in my head reminds me:
Danielle, you don’t have the time for this.
And when I say I don’t have time for something, it is not borne from the typical false bravado and hubris that leads to such statements. No, when I say, “I don’t have time for this,” it comes from a place of deep awareness and reflection. It comes from sitting at my mother’s bedside on a mid-summer day, watching and listening as the life drained out of her. The breathing patterns of a dying person are dramatically different. When you hear them, you know the Angel of Death is present. On my mother’s last day, I listened to that. There was no medical intervention or prayer that was going to change this outcome. The sounds in the hospital room said it all; her breaths were running out. Her time was up.
One day, hopefully, a few decades from now, my time will be up as well. This understanding inspires me to live to fulfill my passions, walk in my purpose, and ignore the petty.