A FRIEND recently told me a story about an elderly man who lay dying on his bed.
In agony, the man suddenly smelled the aroma of his favourite chocolate-chip cookies wafting up the stairs. He gathered his remaining strength and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom and - with even greater effort - went down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands.With laboured breath, he leaned against the door frame and gazed into the kitchen.
Spread out on the kitchen table were hundreds of his favourite cookies.
"No, no, no," the man thought, "this could not be heaven, could it?" Or was it one final act of love by his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?
With one great, final effort, he lunged towards the table. His aged and withered hand was reaching for a cookie when his wife suddenly smacked it with a spatula.
"Stay away from them," she said. "They're for the funeral."
Isn't it a shame that cookies are served when they can no longer be consumed, that flowers are given when they can no longer be seen, and that words are said when they can no longer be heard by the one who has passed on?
While funny in some way, the story got me thinking about the many things we hoard and save for that one "special" occasion.
I, for one, have at least three new shirts hanging in my wardrobe, to be worn only on the right occasion, two new pairs of shoes to be worn only on an exceptional event, and a new watch which has been kept in "cold storage" for the longest time.
I find it a little sad that it takes a story such as the one my friend recounted to realise that the best time of my life belongs neither in the past nor in the future. It is in the here and now!
The same goes for how we feel about people. If we feel that someone has been kind to us, now is the time to tell them how much we appreciate their actions if we have not already done so.
And if we really care for someone a lot, now is the time to tell them that we love them dearly.
You never want to go through life regretting that you did not say what you should have said. Telling others how you feel when they are still around beats having to say afterwards that "I never got a chance to tell him?", or that "I hope she realises how much I..."
Someone once said, "You do not save the best for last. You save the best for now. If your best is not now, then your life is not exactly fulfilling, is it? You never know when your best would be, but you can always make today the best it could be."
I don't know about you, but I am going to the office tomorrow wearing my new shirt, my new shoes and my new watch. I am also going to bake myself a batch of my favourite chocolate-chip cookies, and make a few calls to people who deserve to know how fondly I feel about them.
I'll leave you with some profound words from renowned poet Souza. He said, "Dance as though no one is watching, love as though you've never been hurt, sing as though no one can hear you, live as though heaven is on earth."
Have a good day, my friends!
The writer is a senior vice-president of Singapore Press Holdings' marketing division.
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