Death is a mysterious gift. It brings loved ones together, by separating them from the ones they love. We’ve all been brought together today because of our love for my Grandmother, and all those whose lives she’s touched. Her passing is a gift. Just as her life was a gift. No one wants to think about their own mortality, but we all know we’re not getting out of this thing alive. A death in the family is just another wake up call, reminding us that we only have a short while on this Earth. The amount of time we have here can never be known, and death is nature’s way of reminding us not to squander the time that we have.
My Grandmother was fortunate. She spent 94 years here, most of which were spent in good health. My wife and I had a daughter, Stella Grace, who was not so fortunate. She was born on my Grandmother’s 92nd birthday, and only lived for an hour and 47 minutes. It’s amazing how many lives were touched by our little girl, despite her short life. One can only wonder how many lives my Grandmother touched in her 94 years. And I can assure you that both will continue to touch lives long after they’re gone. I know that every December 23rd our family will be celebrating the lives of two very special women.
So, if you’re sad, be sad. But don’t forget to be grateful. Be grateful for this gift of Life we’ve all been given. It’s so precious. I owe my life, at least in part, to my Grandmother. Had it not been for the birth of my Grandmother, my Mother would not be here today. Had it not been for my Mother, I would not be here today. And if I were not here today, my wife would not be carrying, what promises to be the most precious child to ever walk this Earth. Though I may be a bit biased.
Had it not been for the birth of my Grandmother’s parents, Ben and Susan Cunningham, many of you would not be here today either. And had it not been for my Grandmother’s death, none of us would be gathered here today. We have been presented with an opportunity to celebrate not only her Life, but Life itself. It’s a miracle to be here at all, and death is the most powerful reminder we have of how precious Life is.
So let us rejoice in this gift of Life we’ve been given, for it truly is a miracle. Let’s not live each day as if it’s our last. Let’s live each day as if it’s our first. Let life begin anew every moment of everyday, with a sense of gratitude for your mere existence.
I want you all to close your eyes for a moment. Take a deep breath, and slowly let it out. Now see what it feels like to be alive. Do you feel your heart beating? Do you feel your lungs breathing in and out? Do you feel your arms, legs, abdomen, head, face? What does it feel like to inhabit your body? Now take another deep breath and smile in gratitude as you exhale. That’s the feeling of Life that is ever present in all of us. The secret to opening the gift of Life is simply to see what it feels like to be alive. Feel Life as often as you can. It’s always feeling you.