Today is a gift; tomorrow is the unknown.
I’m a strong believer in this short statement. That’s simply because despite all the money, the intelligence and the confidence in the world one might possess, no one knows what the next ten minutes of life might bring.
You see, we live in a world where we are here this minute and gone the next. It’s instant. That’s how life can quickly change.
Which means we must never take a moment for granted. We must learn to count our blessings, appreciate the gift of life, love the people near us and even the challenges that make us better people.
We know this much. Bad things happen and life was never meant to be easy but we were created to be overcomers. We were created to be victorious, learn to pick ourselves up when we fall now and then.
Why are we talking about this on a Thursday in paradise?
It’s simple really. It’s been hard to shake off the story of Moemulinuu Toleafoa Siaki. He is the welder who died at Matautu when a fuel tank at the wharf he had been working on exploded and caught fire.
The 31-year old father of one from Nu’u was an employee of Petroleum Products Supplies Ltd (P.P.S). The son of Toleafoa Mamea Savea Siaki and his wife Maria Monika, from what we have been told, on the morning that he died, he left home as if it was just another day.
“On that morning, he just woke me up and asked me to drop him and his wife off to their work places,” his father Toleafoa said.
“I dropped my daughter-in-law first at Valentine’s and then him at the Petroleum Products Supplies where he works.
“When we arrived at his work place, he just said to me that he would finish off some of the stuff he was working on at home after work that day.
“He said goodbye to me with a smile and then he walked off.”
The heartbroken father said he did not think that that would be the last time he would see his son alive. Sadly it was.
Today, that family is in mourning. And it’s easy enough to understand.
The thing about death is that if only we knew when it would happen.
Imagine if everyone knew that today would be their last day on earth?
Imagine the farewell services, final dinners, hugs, kisses, I love yous and so forth.
While from the scriptures we are told that death is a divine appointment, the fact we are not given a time should make us appreciate every day even more. For we never know. It could be tomorrow, next year or another 10 years from now, we just never know.
In Samoa today, there are many people who are devastated by the loss of loved ones. While Moe’s story is perhaps the most told in Samoa due to the circumstances of his passing, there are many families struggling with similar stories of sadness about the unexpected loss of loved ones.
In some cases, thousands more are still recovering from such losses from years ago. It’s not easy. It’s fair to say that everyone has lost a loved one at some stage. And it hurts. Quite deeply too.
Some people make the mistake of telling people who are grieving not to grieve. It’s ridiculous, we think. Clearly there is a time to grieve and mourn. We are humans after all and to deny our emotions and feelings over a loss that is so close to home would be lying to ourselves.
What’s important to remember though is that tragedy and error is part of life. And death is an appointment we must all somehow take up, one way or another.
Which brings me back to the point of this piece. We must never take anything for granted. We must learn to appreciate everything in our lives – especially the people that matter the most. We don’t know when they will be taken from us.
A friend sent me a message yesterday. I was deeply touched by it and I want to share if with you today. It reads:
“You think it’s just another day in your life. It’s not just another day, it’s the one day given to you—Today. It is given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.
“If you do nothing else but cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is; if you learn to respond as if it were the first day of your life, and the very last day, then, you will have spent this day very well.
“Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes you can open. That incredible array of colors is constantly offered to us for pure enjoyment.
“Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky, we so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment with clouds coming and going.
“We just think of the weather. And even with the weather, we don’t think of the many nuances of weather. We just think of good weather and bad weather. This day, right now, has unique weather. Maybe a kind that will never exactly in that form come again. The formation of clouds in the sky will never be the same the way it is right now. Open your eyes—look at that.
“Look at the faces of people whom you meet. Each one has an incredible story behind their face, a story you could never fully fathom; not only their own story, but the story of their ancestors. They all go back so far, and at this present moment, on this day, all the people you meet. All that life from generations from so many places all over the world, flows together and meets you here, like a life giving water if you only open your heart and drink.
“Open your heart to the incredible gifts that civilization gives to us. You flip a switch and there is electric light. You turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water—and drinkable water. It’s a gift that millions and millions of people in the world never experience.
“These are just a few of an enormous number of gifts to which you can open your heart. And I so wish that you would open your heart to all these blessings and let them flow through you, that everyone you would meet on this day will be blessed by you. Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch—just by your presence.
“Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then it will really be a good day.”
Have a wonderful day Samoa, God bless!