I have a friend who just found out a relative's cancer has returned. The diagnosis isn't good - the doctors have given him four months to live.
The news was just beginning to sink in . "Four months," she told me. "That's basically a summer. One summer, and he'll be gone."
I know what she's going through - somewhat. Sometimes the people we think we'll have around us forever disappear in a heartbeat. Seven years ago, my beautiful, fun-loving sister laid down with a terrible headache; days later, she was dead from a stroke.
Life is so transient, isn't it? We think we'll have so much time - to hug those kids, to take that trip, to write that book, to get that great job. But you just never know.
My friend is at a loss; I hate to see it. But she has the right attitude.
"I bought a bag of jelly beans the other day," she told me. "I felt so silly - but he loves jelly beans. I thought, 'There's not much I can do, really, but be there ... and I just want to make sure he has all the little things around him he likes.'"
She's right, I thought. There's no guarantees. We can just surround ourselves with the people and the things we love and make the most of the time we have.
Then we cross our fingers and say our prayers.