Tell people how much you appreciate them. This past year, one of my favorite secondary school teachers passed away quite suddenly. She made a huge impact on my life, and taught me how to dodge markers aimed at my head, as well as the most excellent Spanish (I stopped Spanish after 5th form/10th grade and my senior year of college I took the Spanish placement exam and placed into 300-level Spanish [i.e. almost SIX years later]). I never got to tell her how much I appreciated her, or even that I ended up being a language major in college. How I wish I had.
There's a saying, "Give people their flowers while they're alive." You know, when they can still smell them, when they can appreciate their beauty and feel the love with which they were given.
When you're young, sayings like that don't mean much to you: you think that everyone is going to live forever, yourself included. But then someone passes away suddenly -- an accident, an undiagnosed health condition, a sudden illness, a crime snatches them away from you all too soon. Then you realize, life isn't forever, and someone, anyone could die before you were able to tell them how much they meant to you, how much of an impact they had on your life, or how much you looked up to them. And you're left thinking, If only I'd said "I love you" one more time, or I wish I could have told her how much she meant to me.
When my secondary school Spanish teacher, Mrs. Wilson passed away suddenly last year, I was shocked. She was my mother's peer at school, so she wasn't an old woman. She was vibrant and inspiring. She was a phenomenal teacher and not only taught me some excellent Spanish, but she encouraged me so that I was confident in using the Spanish that I knew, and figuring out how to work around what I didn't know. I never got to tell her how much she inspired and impacted me, or that I'd decided halfway through college to add a language major. (I also still have her copy of Punto por Punto but I never told you that, because I'm still afraid of her.)
I wish that I could tell her what her teaching, both Spanish lessons and life lessons meant to me. I wish I could tell her what an amazing woman she was. But she is already gone, so I'm hoping that she knew. Instead, I will tell the other inspiring, impactful people in my life how much they mean to me, how much I admire them. I encourage you to do the same.
Be blessed and shine with appreciation!