A long time ago, one Sunday morning, I recall being in church where an old lady, I believe in her late eighties, made her way to the front of the congregation.
This may be my last time, this may be my last time, oh, this may be my last time, may be my last time, I don't know."
The old lady sang this refrain with such assurance in her voice. She swayed from side to side and tapped her foot in rhythm with the song. Her eyes opened and closed intermittently, just often enough to reveal the many years of struggle and triumph that resided in them.
I remember the "Halleluiahs" and the "Amens" that rang out from among the churchgoers as the old lady ended her song with a charge to everyone.
She called for mothers and fathers to go to their children and to tell them that they loved them. She called for brothers and sisters to let each other know how much they loved one another.
She called for all to clap their hands and to lift their voices and to hug their neighbor.
"Do it while you can children, do it while you can."
The authority she assumed was gently blanketed in a kind of hopefulness that the people would begin to understand that they might've only had that day, that moment. Yet, her tears seemed to be of sorrow. Sorrowful because too many would still take that day, that moment-for granted.
Have you told your children, spouse, partner, mom, dad, sister or brother that you love them today?
I think about the terrible storms, floods, accidents, and violent crimes that have suddenly claimed the lives of so many. I find that the same kinds of thoughts always resurface to the forefront of my mind whenever I hear about such tragedies.
I wonder about the last thing loved ones said to one another. Was there a fight or an exchange of affection? Did they even say goodbye when they left for work or school that day? I think about how awful it must be in that moment where the friends and family realize that the last time they saw their loved one was, in fact, the last time.
I get this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
We sometimes rush into our day making barely enough time, if any, to give a hug, to say a prayer, or to say, "I love you" to the people we care about most. We are so sure that we will see them when we get back home.
We carry our arguments and the bad feelings that go along with them to bed with us. So, we don't say "goodnight" and there is no kiss and no embrace. We are so sure that we will work it out in the morning.
We put off doing what we want to do today expecting tomorrow to hold our place. We tell ourselves that we will be happy when...we have a big house, or pay off the one we have, lose weight or gain fame, get money or get married.
You know, I remember feeling almost frightened by that song and the old lady. I thought it was just about someone dying, but I know now that it was also about something dying. Opportunity.
Love while you can, be happy while you can, do what you are yearning to do while you can. This may be your last time, you don't know.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.