I have seen life enter this world with the birth of my children and I’ve seen that life can exit this world without warning. The time in between birth and death is not assured.

As a kid, I spent a good bit of time at the funeral home my family ran for over 100 years, doing odd jobs or just hanging out while my mother worked. By the time I was seven, I was being recruited to assist my mother in collecting and moving the bodies of deceased. Now that might sound strange, but I didn’t know any different. I was just the same as any kid helping in the family business. While dead bodies are a way of life around a funeral home, I never forgot that each body had a story behind it. That part didn’t escape me. They were the old ladies I saw in church the previous Sunday, the teenager that in an instant was not going to show up to school the next day. No matter how old the person was, I was reminded that life quickly flies by and for some, is simply way too short.

As I got into my teens, I started losing some folks that I knew. Young adults died due to drowning, car accidents, and illness. To this day I remember standing over the coffin of a young man in his teens that had died from drowning. He might have been a year or two older than me. He left an impact on my life. Not in the way his family would have liked but he is still remembered by a boy that had only once met his dead body.

Growing up in the funeral home left many impressions on me. First of all, I know life is short. We know we’re going to die; we just don’t know when. That isn’t something we want to sit around and think about day in and day out, but we must allow ourselves to be aware in order to make sure we know we are living now, and we should be living our life to its fullest potential.

Another impression that stuck with me growing up in a funeral home is that I know my time is running out. Whereas most people don’t want to think about this, it’s been very clear over my life that I might have 2 days, 2 months, 2 years or 20 years left. This has led me to pursue a life in which I’m more present and on my own terms. What life we have left is unknown, but we hope that it will be long and healthy.

Life is not permanent. We all get one shot at it. We’ve all lost friends, co-workers and family members who didn’t have a long life. That should be a wake-up call for all of us. I know it was for me when I lost my sister at age 51 and my former business partner at 47.

Growing up in a family business that happened to be a funeral home helped shape me into the person I am today. I know life is short and my time is running out. This has put a little urgency to my dreams and goals. I’m not waiting until I’m 65 or 70 to live the life I want to live because I might be gone by then. My time is now.

Perhaps it’s time that you add a little urgency to your life as well.

Live free my friends,
Eric Gaddy