Memento Mori’s origin dates back thousands of years, yet its sentiment rings as true now as it did then. Memento Mori asks us to look at life and then live it as if each day was our last...with passion, purpose and presence in each moment. I do believe that we all inherently search for meaning in the life we lead. Typically, it’s in the moments of great challenge, sadness, or struggle that the question surfaces...Why? Why me? Why now?
I first asked WHY ME when I was only 14. Being an only child and losing my mom was devastating. My parents (both school teachers) and I were driving from Florida to our vacation home in North Carolina. My mom had recently been prescribed medication for her debilitating headaches, and took the 1st dose on the morning of our drive. Because we were going to the mountains in the winter for the first time, my dad was driving behind my mother and me in the other car with supplies for our vacation. That afternoon, after a quick stop for lunch, the life I knew for 14 years came to an unexpected end. As my mom fell asleep at the wheel and missed the guardrail on the highway, our car flipped over twice, throwing both of us out of the windows and onto the ground, down the embankment. The accident (neither her doctor nor the pharmacy attached a warning label to the medicine bottle) was an unintended result of someone else’s neglect. Her internal injuries were too much for her to bear and she passed away in the helicopter en route to the hospital. My dad, having witnessed the horror of the event unfold as he drove behind us, then accompanied me to a nearby hospital for stitches. Stitches...how was it possible that the scars on my hip were the only physical remnants from that day? That is when my own search began.
I don’t remember much from that period of my life (I’m sure I’ve blocked a lot out only to protect myself from such immense pain), but I do know that my mom’s funeral was standing room only. She was loved by many, and it was because of this wonderful circle of friends and the love and support of my father that I was able to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.
Odds are we will all encounter tragedy, loss, and the like throughout life. How do we manage? How do we process? We are all just trying to make sense of our own lives and the moments in them. For me, even then, I had the feeling that my purpose had yet to be fulfilled. It simply wasn’t my time to go, as I had more left to do here on Earth. I suppose my mom was able to provide me with what I needed in the short while I had her, though I will be the 1st one to tell you that I’d do anything to have her back!
Life goes on whether we are ready or not. To live it and find meaning from the vantage point of Memento Mori with passion, purpose, and presence is the key.