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There’s an old lady in my office. I see her almost everyday in the coffee room. Very nice lady. We usually exchange hellos and tidbits. A few months ago I went on a long vacation and obviously didn’t see her for quite some time. When I came back, there she was, sort of a part of my daily routine, with an ever-present smile on her face! She had changed her hairstyle, which looked pretty good on her. So I told her that it did.

“Hey Marilyn, nice hairstyle!”

She smiled back at me and said, “Oh, it’s just a wig. I had chemo done for my cancer and lost all of it.”

And then there was an awkward pause after which she asked, “Do you really think it looks good?”

“Of course it does Marilyn.”

I will never forget how easy she made it sound. That’s something. Isn’t it?

A few more months passed and my routine continued. Yesterday, I got a message from the company secretary that we will be celebrating Marilyn’s twenty-five years of service with the company. A luncheon is being arranged. Ah! that sounds so appropriate. She has had a great career. Someone as hard working and dedicated and Marilyn ought to be recognized and celebrated. So when I saw her this morning in the coffee room I told her-

“Marilyn, congratulations on your twenty-five years. That’s some achievement. We look forward to many more years with you.”

“This Friday is my last day. I’m going off on disability.”

Her voice was trembling and a deep sadness lurked around that fake smile; and as if she knew what I was wondering, she said-

“No, I’m not retiring yet. I’ll be back soon. But for now, I want to spend some time with my family. You know, you never know!”

She’s a fighter. I really hope she makes a comeback.

But, if you think of it – this is it. Everything grows old and pauses, and then comes to an end, no matter how good (or bad) it is. Everything travels forward in time, slowly ages, stops, and eventually perishes. Today, it’s her career, and tomorrow, it’ll be her. Day after, it’ll be me, accompanied by many and followed by many more. Harsh, but true.

Travelling forward in time and growing old is the only characteristic that everyone and everything has in common. What differentiates us from each other is how we spend our time between today and ‘that’ day. Today, Marilyn is sad because she is not done yet. She loves to live. I want to be just as sad as Marilyn is today when my time comes.

Between today and my ‘that’ day, I sure hope to live a life full of achievements and successes- both personal and professional. I hope to keep caring and loving my near and dear ones. I hope to dream about a good future for my lovely daughter. I hope I can deliver it to her.

Among all these ephemeral hopes, I also hope to live a life full of moments- moments that bind all the bits and pieces of my life together. Moments that should matter the most, moments that are full of myriad emotions, moments that are full of love, moments that are thoughtful, moments that are challenging, and moments that feel eternal. I want to breathe in these moments as much as possible.

These moments will make sure that my last day is my saddest day ever. For after that day I will never again experience any of them ever again.