We’ve heard it all our lives when someone has what may be termed a “near-death” experience – “I saw my life pass before my eyes.” For me, this past Sunday was almost one of those. However, I didn’t see a thing until the potential game-ender had already happened.
In addition to my work as an assistant to Trevecca president Dan Boone, I’m now in my 11th year of coaching the Lady Trojans golf team. Sunday was very nearly my last day on the job – ANY JOB!!
I was at Hermitage Golf Course, one of middle Tennessee’s most beautiful pieces of God’s handiwork. I was checking up our team’s practice round and chatting with a couple of coaches from other schools. And that’s when it happened.
All that came between me, an errant tee shot from a Lindsey Wilson player, and a tee time in heaven was a thin piece of plexiglass on my golf cart. I never heard the “heads up” from the girl who hit the shot, much less see it coming at me. So, there wasn’t time to see my life pass before my eyes in that moment, but I’ve absolutely done a lot of soul-searching since.
Oh, the next two days were beautiful and my team played pretty well. I had a good moment or two with some friends at the course. I played church softball Monday night on the team our oldest son now leads ( and at 53, I can still hit like a champ). Between innings, my friend Ron came over to say hello. That’s when it really hit me – almost as hard as that golf ball hit my cart – that someday, my life will come to an end.
I have great hopes for Ron! Even as I write, Ron is in the middle of a 10-12 hour operation to discover just how advanced and pervasive the cancer in his abdominal area really is. Ron’s the kind of guy most men wish they could be. He’s an ex-college athlete who, even at 54, still looks like the California-cool guy he’s always been. He’s built an ultra-successful business, has a beautiful wife, great kids, and just about anything else a man could want. Ron’s facing this with great gusto and optimism and everybody who knows Ron is praying for a good outcome.
I remember looking Ron in the eye and saying, “I love you, brother!” I clearly believe that I’ll be able to say that to Ron again in years to come, but what if that was the last time I got to say anything to him?
I mean, Ron has cancer, but I almost got hit by a golf ball traveling over 100 mph. I could’ve been gone in an instant… We all could!
Back in 2007, I had a similar experience to what Ron is dealing with today, although not on the same scale. After being warned of the likelihood of blood pressure and heart problems if I didn’t change my ways, I started trying to lose weight and was successful in dropping 35 pounds over the next few months.
Around that same time, it was also discovered that I had a malignant melanoma on my back. It was removed and the doctors said they “got it all.” But there was about a seven day period where I didn’t really know that to be the case.
During that interim of not knowing for sure, I made a vow to be more intentional about a lot of things. Mainly, that I would keep one goal at the top of the list. That is, I want what I say to people to matter, in a good way, to them. Sooner or later, I’ll speak to someone for the last time.
Life at its best can still be incredibly difficult at times. I want my life – my words and my actions – to be an encouragement to those around me. When that “last time” comes, I pray that whatever I’ve said to them will be a blessing to them and not a curse.
Last night, Sarah and I ate dinner at a place near our house. It was a gorgeous evening and instead of just heading straight home I suggested a little drive out by Old Hickory Lake.
I guess there’s just something about the way heavy pollen filters the setting sun because last night’s sunset was spectacular. We opened the sunroof, rolled down the windows and turned on the iPod. Lee Ann Womack was singing “The Last Time.”
This song is obviously about a lost love, but the words in the chorus could to apply to most any meaningful relationship:
But if I’d known it was the last time
I’d held on a little longer
And let that moment linger
And never let your fingers
Slip away from mine
If I’d known there’d never be another day
I’d watched you as you walked away
Kept you in my eyes till you were out of sight
If I’d known it was the last time
If I’d known then what I know now
I’d never let you disappear into the crowd
Or turn away the way I did
With so much left unsaid
If I’d known it was the last time
I guess the bottom line of what I’m trying to say is:
Don’t take a moment or friend or loved one for granted. Say what needs saying now. Love like there’s no tomorrow.
Someday there won’t be…
Love to all!!