On Monday I attended the "Celebration of Life" service for a 35-year-old guy I have known for the last 20 years. His name was Chris, and his funeral was different from most. Rather than spending an hour or two regretting what wasn't, Chris' family and friends rejoiced in what was. And they had good reason to.
Chris had five and a half months between his cancer diagnosis and his death, and Chris made much of that time. He met with many of his best friends, even though they lived in different states. He started a friendship with his pastor. He spent one-on-one time with both his immediate and extended family, telling them regularly that he loved them. And, perhaps most importantly, he specifically focused on leaving a legacy of faith for his children.
In fact, several days before he died, Chris asked his wife to promise him that she would keep their three young kids in church and make sure that they were introduced to Jesus. He knew he was going to heaven and wanted to be able to see his family again...and she agreed.
At the funeral, rather than speeches full of regret, person after person took the stage and spoke about conversations that did happen. They shared words that were said. They relayed moments that were had. While there was plenty of sadness, you could tell there was still joy. Remarkable joy. Chris had made it pretty easy.
I'm certainly not asking for a terminal diagnosis (far from it), but I do wish that I could live as if I had one. I want the sense of urgency that Chris had. I want my priorities to reflect the brevity of life rather than the vanity of it. I want to be able to wholeheartedly focus on my faith and my family and my friends, without letting the temporal crowd out the eternal.
Life, in and of itself, is terminal. And while I am saddened by Chris' death, I am rejoicing that (in the process) he helped me (and many, many others) learn how to truly live.