This summer began with unexpected tragedy and heartbreak for a beloved friend of our family. As I sat at the memorial service of her 23-year-old daughter – her too-short life replaying through videos and stories shared by friends – I was struck by how much life she lived during her 23 years. She traveled. She learned. She loved. Even with financial resources more limited than some, nothing kept her from experiencing all life had to offer.
This beautiful girl was born with a serious heart condition. She and her mother have always been keenly aware that her life would be cut shorter than most, and I believe that knowledge changed the way they lived. My friend is one of the hardest working people I know, selflessly caring for everyone around her and holding multiple jobs – all to give her daughter as many life experiences as she could.
The details surrounding her daughter’s final days were complicated as her health took a turn for the worse while on a trip to Mexico. The challenges of navigating a healthcare system in another country with a patient whose condition made her too unstable for many to transport left us at a loss. We called on every resource, every connection we could think of to help our dear friend, and although we were able to get her daughter safely back to Oklahoma and in the care of skilled, compassionate doctors, the damage to her heart was ultimately beyond repair.
It was a confusing and emotional time. However, that experience has taught me two valuable lessons:
- There is tremendous good and unbelievable evil in the world. We were shocked to encounter corruption and a complete lack of concern for patient well-being only a few hundred miles from our country’s border. It very quickly became our first priority to get this young girl back to the United States where she would receive proper care. The things we encountered were disheartening, but even in the midst of such a difficult situation, we were blown away by the response of those we called on. So many people called in favors, spent hours on the phone with us and gave us wise counsel. We were left with an incredible feeling of gratitude for the community who rallied around us and for the privilege of living in America.
- Life is short, cliché though it may sound. Time is the most precious asset we have, and kids – in particular – spell love T-I-M-E. Is your family getting enough of yours? If you knew your time on earth was limited, how would that reprioritize your life? These are the questions that have been running through my mind since the service.
I can’t imagine the unbearable pain my friend experienced this summer burying her daughter. I can’t remove it from her, even though I’d trade just about anything if I could. I can, however, honor her daughter’s life and legacy by living out these lessons. I can accumulate the assets that truly matter by prioritizing travel and experiences with my loved ones. I can be the kind of man who goes above and beyond – giving of my time and energy to help friends, family and my community. And you can, too.
Blog by Kyle Brownlee, CEO.