Last week, my mom, my aunt, and I went to see the movie Still Alice. The movie centers on the life of Dr. Alice Howland, an accomplished professor who’s diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The first scene in the movie is of Alice and her family celebrating her birthday. At this point in time, she has no idea that in a matter of months she’ll be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As I watched this opening scene, all I could think was, “she looks so happy.” Because I had read the book Still Alice prior to seeing the movie, I knew what fate awaited this cheerful character.
The movie was especially touching because my Grandma Daly suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and I watched the disease totally change her. It was sad to watch and sad even now to think about. But as I left the movie theater last week, I was inspired by my grandma and by the fictional Alice Howland. I was inspired to enjoy life now, to be more cheerful, and to be more grateful. As I lay in bed that night, I reflected on what a true divine miracle each life is.
A couple days ago, I came across a blog by someone who observed the fatal drowning of a fellow beach goer while on vacation. The author of the blog commented that he’d always been annoyed with the saying “live each day as if it’s your last.” He remarked that surely if this were his last day on earth, he wouldn’t spend it doing work. But he can’t just give up working entirely. As he observed this tragedy, however, he realized what that mantra encourages individuals to do is to live each day with gratitude.
Sometimes (okay, most of the time) life can be stressful. There are always obligations and demands placed on us. Yet, despite the stress, we must choose to be cheerful. We don’t know how long we have to celebrate life here on earth with those we love. Just today as my mind was reviewing a number of stressors in my life, I thought to myself, “Meghan, be grateful you can experience stress. Doing so means you’re alive and you have a life worth caring about.”
My grandma’s birthday is coming up on March 9. If she were still alive, she’d turn 81 this year. Her life is a legacy of service and love. My desire is to emulate her legacy and more fully reverence being alive by remembering and appreciating the blessing of life today and each day.
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