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We are constantly reminded of the preciousness of life and why nothing can be taken for granted

By Nina Steele 

Life as a single childless womanI watched a BBC programme the other day entitled ‘Second Chance Summer: Tuscany’. The show follows ten people who for one reason or another, are contemplating starting a new life in Tuscany. One common thread among the participants is the fact that their decision was made following the loss of someone very close to them. A 38 year old man was still mourning the loss of his mother, while another participant, a 50 year old woman, had recently lost her partner to cancer. Her story particularly had a profound effect on me, because it reminded me once again of how unpredictable life can be and how at any point, any one of us can be forced into a direction we had hoped would only come when we get to old age. This assumption that we have plenty of time ahead of us is one of the reasons why so many of us often waste our time and energy on people and things that do nothing for our happiness nor our peace of mind.

The woman who lost her partner to cancer said something that would resonate with many of us. She said: “we thought we would spend the rest of our lives together” and that “everything we dreamt about is just gone”. Her story brought back memories of an old man I knew at my previous job for an old people’s charity. He and his wife had made plans to start travelling when they both retire and had saved accordingly. Sadly, when that time came, his wife was diagnosed with dementia and she died a few years later. The man never recovered. He wished they had travelled while they were still working, instead of waiting to do so later.

Whenever I hear these types of stories, I never think of the people involved as unfortunate or having bad luck, instead, I see them as lessons for all of us. As I said before, we often live with the false belief that bad things only happen to other people, not realising that we are the ‘other people’ in someone else’s eyes. Those old sayings that have become clichés are as relevant today as they were when they were first uttered. They have been repeated so many times that some of us have become a bit blasé about them. We hear them but don’t take real notice. But those old truths, as has been proven time and time again, are part of our lives for a reason. They are real. So when you hear someone say ‘live each day as if it was your last’ or ‘never take anything for granted’, don’t see it as another platitude, but rather, see it for what it is, namely, a valuable advice to be heeded.

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