Tomorrow Is Not Promised – Live Life in the Present and Enjoy the Journey!

— Written By Christine Smith and last updated by Kim Davis

Each day I awake I do so with a grateful heart. Grateful for my health, family, and friends. Grateful for a job, the opportunity to serve, and for positive relationships. Grateful to work with sharp influential leaders that are making a difference. And grateful for each one of you who keep me inspired, encouraged, and motivated.

Within two months three very special people that I admired passed away. My first grade teacher Mrs. Alice Thomas; Mr. Ralph Sasser, the man who hired me 30 years ago; and Ms. Rhonda Rawls,  a faithful Fit and Fabulous program participant.

We all know that teachers can have a profound effect on student achievement. Such was the case with my first grade teacher Mrs. Thomas. She was one of the most revered, appreciated, and treasured teachers I knew. She invested quality time in nurturing the development and self-esteem of her students.

Not only was Mrs. Thomas my first grade teacher, but she was a close family friend. She and my aunt were both elementary school teachers. She was there at every milestone in my life; college graduation,  baby shower, wedding, welcome home events, and birthday parties. She often shared with me how proud she was of “her babies – her students”. It seems like it was only yesterday.

Last week I attended the graveside service of  Mr. Ralph Sesser, former District Extension Director. I admired this man so much! It was he who saw potential in me as he interviewed me on a cold December evening at NCSU. He said to me, “Young lady, I think you have what we are looking for to fill the position in Wayne County. Are you willing to stay overnight to go to WayneCounty to meet the staff?”  With pride I said, “Of course Sir!”.

Two days after the interview Mr. Sasser called to offer me the job starting immediately. Since Christmas was approaching I requested to start after the first of the year. He denied my request and insisted that I had to start on  the15th before the start of a new year. I did not understand why but I decided to be obedient and trust that he was acting in my best interest.

Over the years we lost touch but reconnected through a colleague early last year. I was fortunate to be able to personally thank him for setting me up for an exceptional career path. Had I not listened and joined after the first of the year I would not have a Federal appointment. I was one of the last hires with a Federal appointment. Boy am I glad I listened to wisdom! The last time I spoke to him was in May on his 85th birthday. His spirit was high, we laughed and reminisced about fellow colleagues. Little did I know this would be our last conversation. I was so hoping that he would be around to celebrate my retirement. Although he will not be there physically, he will in spirit.

I got an e-mail from Debbie Elliott one of my program participants informing me that her Mother, Ms. Rhonda Rawls had passed. My heart bled. She was one of my senior Fit and Fabulous participants who loved the program and its participants. She was so positive, loving, congenial, and loved exercising. She was an inspiration to all our participants. Twice a week she walked in with her walker. Yes, her walker. Even on days when she did not feel her best she made it to class to exercise. She never made excuses, only FRIENDS. Her smile, sweet disposition, and words of encouragement inspired us to move more! Debbie, we want you to know that we loved your mother too. She is definitely missed but her spirit is present with us.

I tell you these stories to make a point. Live in the present and enjoy the journey. Love more because life is fragile and tomorrow is not promised. In 2014 live as if there is no tomorrow. Think about these questions. If tomorrow never comes, will the people you love know how much you love them? Will you have done what you really wanted to do in your lifetime? Will you live today differently? Thinking about mortality helps us to clearly focus on the things that are most important and of highest priority to us. Live in the present, not allowing precious moments to escape. You are worthy!

Christine Smith is an Extension Agent in the department of Family & Consumer Sciences with N.C. Cooperative Extension, NCSU,Wayne County. Information on other services available can be found online at //wayne.ces.ncsu.edu/ or call me at 731-1525 for additional information.