25 Weeks of Rediscovery: What Death Taught Me

Posted January 21, 2015 by jimhigley


(This is the third week of a six-month journey of self-discovery. Thanks for joining me. Monday I shared Chapter 2 from my book, “Bobblehead Dad: 25 Lessons I Forgot I Knew.”  And yesterday we talked about my own experiences with losing family members. Today we talk more about life and deatth. Come back next week for a new lesson and some new thoughts. 

Lesson 2: Loved ones die. But they never leave.

This piece of paper is my most treasured possession.

For those of you who know the storyline of my life – you know why. It’s the small piece of paper I found in my mother’s purse in the days following her death. I write about that discovery at lengths in my book. It’s tiny. No wider than two inches and no longer than three inches.

But it contain 42 words I cherish.

There’s actually another poem – or prayer – on the other side. The messages in both are very similar.

When I discovered this keepsake – tucked away with other remnants of Mom’s cut-short life – I instinctively knew this was my road map for life. And its message is what has helped me navigate through the darkness of losing other family members as well as my own health journey.

I shall pass through this world but once. 

We get one shot at this life. This day. This hour. This minute.

The mantra of those words has not only helped me focus in positive ways about how I spend my time. But it’s also has helped me learn to not waste time on the frivolous. And it’s helped me remember that no matter how dark the dark moments feel, those moments will pass. They don’t last forever.

If, therefore there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do, let me do it now…



Because life breezes by so fast. For some, far too fast. And kindness – as my son, Drew regularly reminds me – is the secret sauce to change the world.

Kindness is contagious. Kindness is memorable. And one act of kindness to another person can change the trajectory of their life.

And for me, kindness is one tangible way I keep the spirits of my mom, dad and brother alive and living. I feel my father’s kindness fingerprint every time I try to make the check-out clerk smile. I feel the warmth of my brother’s kindness fingerprint every time I remind myself to stop – and help or talk to someone in need on the street.

My mother’s kindness fingerprint is most alive when I interact with my children. It’s a kindness – at least one I hope they feel – that says nothing is more important to me than helping them see the value of their lives.

So off we go.

Living life. Minute by minute. Day by day. We don’t know what joy or sorrow awaits us in the next 24 hours.

But we know one thing for sure.

We shall pass through this world but once.

I hope you are enriched by the gift of kindness today.


Loved ones die. But they never leave.  


Want more?  Read the first week’s posts including the  Prologue and Introduction. And come back next week for a new chapter!