Recently a 60-year-old acquaintance suffered a brain aneurysm.
Jeff lingered on life support while his family made difficult decisions, including having his organs harvested once the inevitable came and the plug would be pulled.
No one saw this coming. Not family, not friends, not co-workers -- certainly not Jeff.
I didn't know Jeff well, but he struck me as a guy who really enjoyed life. Jeff certainly was well loved by his friends and his grieving family.
A few weeks have gone by and I've been thinking -- if it was me who had that aneurysm -- what would I regret if the Reaper called today? What can I do now that I can't when I'm dead.
In no particular order, here's 11 things.
11. Take a day off work. Can you imagine anyone wishing they'd spent more time at the office.
10. Get a family photo done. Give your loved ones something to treasure.
9. Re-connect with old friends. Think of whom you've lost touch with. Pick up the phone. Email. Facebook 'em. Do it now... before it's too late.
8. Take the dog for a walk. Make it a long one. If you don't have a dog, go borrow one. Rent one if you have to. Dogs are cool and the more you love them, the more they love you.
7. Send a nice letter. Doesn't matter to whom. Just let those real feelings out while you can. This is one thing you'll never regret.
6. Try something new. A new eatery. Take an artistic course. Bungee-jump. Talk to a hippie. Go geocaching. Give ten bucks to some random homeless guy. Quit your job, pack up, and head south. Just don't stay in that deepening rut.
5. Watch kids play. Make it a long watch. If you don't have kids, go borrow some. Rent them if you have to. Lots of 'em. Better yet, let the dog and the kids play together. There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- like the sound of dogs barking and children laughing.
4. Go on a picnic. Take your spouse. Or your lover. Preferably not both. Maybe your mom and your dad. Daughter or son. Pack chicken and potato salad. Cold pinot gris and that red checkered blanket. Go. To hell with the rain or the snow or the sleet or the hail. Just go.
3. Volunteer. Help out a cause. Join a service club or a clean-up group. Help out the seniors or raise money for guides. Canvas for the heart and stroke foundation, cancer society, MS, or MD. Give something back.
2. Write that book. Admit it. Everybody's got a book inside them. Start it. Or finish it. Or start or finish the next. There has never, ever been a better time to be a writer. For God's sakes, I'm living proof. If I can get published, there's absolutely no reason you can't.
1. Sign up as an organ donor. It takes 10 minutes. Let everyone in your circle know and encourage them to do the same.
Jeff was an organ donor.
That's the only thing Jeff did after death.
And because of Jeff's generosity, four other people are alive today.
So enjoy life.
And make sure you're signed as an organ donor.
Because you never know when the Reaper calls.
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Garry Rodgers is a retired homicide detective and forensic coroner, now best-selling crime writer. Garry writes from Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada and hosts the popular blog DyingWords.net.