“They can be like a sun, words. They can do for the heart what light can for a field.”
—St. John of the Cross
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About Jennifer Read HawthorneLast Day
November 1, 2014

        Two weeks ago today, the parents of a very close friend of mine, whom I knew well in my home town of Baton Rouge, were rear-ended in what turned out to be a terrible car accident. My friend’s mother, who was driving, suffered severe injuries and never regained consciousness. She passed away four days later. My friend’s father suffered multiple bone breaks and fractures and is still in the hospital.
        Death and tragedy always seem bigger when they strike close to home, but I was particularly affected by what happened to this family. They are such good people! They’re a strong, close-knit group. One of the three sons is a state senator. The son who’s my friend is a kind, gentle soul whom I regard as a brother. This was clearly one of those seemingly bad things that happen to good people.
        It started me thinking about how few people wake up on the day of their death and know that this will be their last day. And it made me want to become more conscious about that. So each day when I wake up now, I reflect for a moment on how this could be my last day on earth. And if I were privy to such extraordinary knowledge, what would I want my day to look like?
        Some things would be the same. I’d have my tea ritual first thing, followed by morning meditation. But I don’t think I would then head for my desk to check email and begin working—which I do now to earn a living.
        So what can I make different? I find myself being a little pickier about how I prioritize my activities. I’m paying better attention to what my body is telling me (get up, move around, that’s not the right decision, etc.). It’s becoming easier for me to stop work  and take a break at the ocean for some balance. There’s a tendency to be just a little bit kinder to others and myself.
        Little things. But they’re a new and improved way of living for me—and my way of honoring my friend and his family.