First Things First

Living Life with Meaning

Joseph Hernandez and his wife of 47 years were preparing for retirement and discussing how they would celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. At 67, Joseph was full of life and had just received a clean bill of health from his doctor.

Joseph loved people, and he devoted his life’s work to helping others build strong families.  While attending a conference this past July where he was teaching on how to help families thrive, Hernandez became ill and passed away.  In the blink of an eye, an undetected aneurysm took him from his bride, his family, friends and colleagues.

In the midst of tragedy, meaningful moments can offer powerful takeaways about living life.

When Mrs. Hernandez realized something was wrong and called the ambulance, team members and colleagues who had become friends immediately surrounded her.  Some put their dinner plans on hold when they realized what was happening. Friends rushed to the hospital, orchestrated phone calls and tried to thoughtfully anticipate potential needs.   Although they had no idea what to expect, they wanted to be there and offer support.

Joseph left this earth doing what he loved, surrounded by the people he loved.  While remembering him, many felt it was amazing that he died doing what he was most passionate about.  They discussed the importance of doing what you love and making the most of every day.  “Life is short,” they said.  “Make what you are doing count.”

While it is hard to believe that Joseph is gone, it reminds those left behind to focus on what really matters in life – relationships.

At the end of the day, the relationships we cultivate make life rich.  Life’s pace seems to move faster and faster.  Relationships are often neglected while people pursue career aspirations, take care of children and fulfill community commitments.

Have you told your loved ones how you feel lately or taken time to catch up with a longtime friend?  Have you forgiven those who have offended you?  It is easy to assume there will always be tomorrow, but there is no guarantee.

Have you ever felt the nudge to visit a sick friend or provide child care for a busy parent? Have you thought about calling someone just to check in?  If so, did you talk yourself out of it because it would throw your entire schedule out of whack? Or maybe you thought you weren’t the right person, wouldn’t know what to say or that it might have been awkward somehow.  Perhaps you look back and wish you had taken the time because everything else wasn’t that important.  You might even understand that whether you had the words or not, your presence would have been comforting.

During the ordeal and its aftermath, Mrs. Hernandez said it meant a lot that people came to be with her, knowing they had stepped away from important work.

Simply being willing to show up says you care.  Life is short, so make your moments count.

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