When my 22-year-old brother died, it taught me a lesson about time

It can all be gone in the blink of an eye. On the last day of April 2016, I spoke to my 22-year-old brother for about 30 minutes. Sam did what he always did: He encouraged me to relax and to ignore the usual, unavoidable family drama. I was frustrated because there was, yet again, another disagreement between members of my large, loving and sometimes annoying family. My shy and comforting brother simply asked me to let it go and to move on.

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I did not.

The night before my life was turned upside down, I was browsing through some of my favorite blogs in the hopes of calming myself down. I went to sleep knowing that I should have called the parties involved to squash what was clearly a petty disagreement. I will never again go to sleep knowing that I am upset with anyone that I love.

Sunday, May 1, I avoided two phone calls from my aunt. At 11:58 a.m., while I was trying to dress my girls for church, I received a text message telling me that my brother was dead.

I was angry, and I was sure that it was an attempt to force me to pick up my phone and to participate in an argument that no longer mattered to me. I was ready to disown anyone who would participate in such a disgusting prank. When my mother did not pick up her phone, I called my younger sister, and the moment I heard her screaming into the phone, “Tell me it’s not true, Nancy. Tell me he’s alive!” my life was forever changed.

These things do not happen to people like us. You see it on television and movies. It happens to friends of friends and every so often to close friends, but it does not happen to us. One of my closest friends in the world, a piece of me, does not die, and especially not 17 days before his 23rd birthday. At 23, I was planning my wedding, ready to enter into a sense of independence that I had never experienced before, and yet I will be burying my little brother three days after his 23rd birthday.

These are the life lessons that I hope it will not take a tragedy for those I care about to truly accept. Although I thought I applied most of these on a regular basis, it took a great loss to realize that I never really understood just how precious time is and how little control we have over the time that we are given to walk within our purpose.

Here are three things that I’m learning:

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1. Stop putting to tomorrow what you can do today

We often focus on the physical reproduction of things, understanding that beginning a fitness journey today means that we will start to see the weight loss in a week or two and the physical proof will take even longer. What about the mental transformation that happens instantly? Choosing to actually get up and to stop putting things away creates mental results today that will alter the way that you view yourself and your ability to succeed.

2. I welcome failure

If and when failure and I do cross paths, I welcome it as an opportunity for me to learn in order to walk within my purpose effectively. If you want to impact your world for the better and to walk within your purpose, you have to be willing to understand what fear is and accepting it for what it is. Your failure is not a reflection of you; it is simply a reflection of weaknesses that you have to improve upon in order to thrive and excel in your purpose. In order to be able to spot and to pluck out these weaknesses, you have to fail. Accept it, understand it and love it!

3. I have less patience for those who are not like me, and that is OK

It is OK to be picky about your circle. The people in your life are sitting in your boat with you. Are they helping you to row to the other side or are they weighing down? Start approaching your life like a boat and allow people onto your boat that will offer you support and encouragement, not drown you.

The three ways that my brother’s death have changed the way that I view time. I talk more about it in the podcast below.

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