Tag Archives: cling to life

Numbering your days

I recently decided to pick up this book:

20,000 Days and Counting, by Robert D. Smith

On Smith’s 20,000th day of life, he went on a little personal retreat and made a plan for the next 20,000 days. This book is your personal road map for making the most of the time you are blessed with here on earth – with little, easy to digest nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout. I would recommend it to anybody who is as obsessed with the passing of time as I am.

I’ve been alive 10,878 days. Exactly 3626 times as many days as Hudson was alive.

Three days is a long weekend. Three days isn’t even half of a week. Three days is  all it takes for a little human being to change the world. She leaves ripples in her wake that will turn into tidal waves of change. She was, and is, amazing.

In the 20,000 Days book, Smith mentions a video called “When I Die: Lessons From the Death Zone“. I watched it this morning. I want you to go watch it right now.

I’ll wait.

…Life screams at you with its intensity.
I saw my children born, {…} and I saw the incredible, massive potential of that moment. And when my father died, and the air left his body, it was as powerful as the air entering the body of my daughters.
He died very beautifully at 9:30 tonight. Gail is in rapture and says that she felt total bliss from him at the moment of death and that it was a message for all of us to not be sad.

I’m not going to lie to you. I laid in bed, hugging my giraffe print body pillow, and I cried as I read those words on the screen of my Kindle Fire.

What would it feel like to die? What did Hudson feel as she passed from this world into… what? Without a grasp of any kind of language, do you think her intent as she died in our arms was a message for all of us to not be sad?

I have a lifetime of waiting to find out.

What I do know is that in her three days, she was surrounded by nothing but love. In her three days, not a moment was wasted. In her three days, people focused on her with an intensity no other human being will ever know in a longer lifetime. We memorized her face, we drank in her incredible, massive potential, we prayed fervently, we willed the universe to help our daughter hold on.

And perhaps, that moment when she let go was total bliss for her.

Every once in a while, something somebody says to me in the aftermath of Hudson’s death will burn into my brain, and my mother dropped one of these on me very shortly after Hudson died. My dad is a pastor, so he spends a lot of time with people in their dying days, with families in the dreaded “after”. From hospital visits to funerals, my parents have more experience than the average adult with death. And my mother commented to me on one of my particularly bad days, “It has always struck me how tenuously we cling to life.”

Tenuous. Having little substance. Flimsy.

My grandfather died on my birthday last year. He had a long, painful battle with cancer. Over a year before he died, we thought we were going to say goodbye to him. He’d been on life support and the decision was made to take him off of the machines that were keeping him alive. As family gathered around him and sang hymns and prayed together, we all were thinking in the back of our minds that these were our last moments with Grandpa. But his attachment to life was more tenacious than tenuous, and he somehow fought back to us, against all odds. We got another year (and some change) with Grandpa.

When Hudson’s heart stopped on July 14, my Grandpa’s recovery flitted through the back of my mind. In those moments, I tried to live in two dimensions: the dimension where my daughter was dying in my arms, and the dimension where my daughter was fighting to live in my arms. I wanted to cherish the minutes I had with her because they were my last, all the while clinging to some tenuous hope that she might be stronger than the force taking her away from me.

That’s kind of what life is like. In every moment, we are living and dying. We are one stupid mistake from death in every moment. We are one freak accident away from life. We are as old as we’ve ever been and as young as we’re ever going to get, RIGHT NOW.

Let life scream at you with its intensity. You don’t have to know how many days you’ve been alive to know that each one of those days is a gift. Number your days, or don’t number your days…. but live them.



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