She is a mom like any other. From her seat in the school auditorium, she celebrated the year-end awards with the rest of us proud and camera-happy parents. We applauded every accomplishment. We grinned through the 20-minute slideshow. We reflected on how much our children have grown.
Yet when her daughter’s name was called, it was not the daughter but the son who skipped onto the stage to accept his sister’s scholarship. And the room erupted into applause—because we all knew why. Just one month earlier, the sweet girl went home to Jesus.
She was eleven years old.
And I cannot help but imagine the depth of this mother’s sorrow.
Even as I beamed at my second-grader walking across the stage, my heart ached for the fellow mom who will not see her child graduate to middle school. Who will never again feel her daughter’s hugs or tape her artwork to the wall. One day—one moment—her child was here and then in an instant she was gone.
And the weight of it still slugs me in the gut.
It could’ve been my child.
It could’ve been yours.
How would we treat our kids today if we knew we would lose them tomorrow?
It seems like a gloomy question, I know, but it begs consideration. Just today I snapped at my daughters for whipping me in the face with a T-shirt during one of their giggle-infested “laundry fights.” If I knew I would lose them tomorrow, I would’ve joined the game instead.
I scolded them for choosing not to hear my voice above the TV when I told them to turn off Odd Squad and set the table for dinner. In hindsight, I would’ve softened my tone.
I missed witnessing my daughter’s best cartwheel in the yard because my nose was stuck to my iPhone. Tomorrow I would sorely wish I’d opened my eyes.
So the real question is—why should the last day be any different from the middle?
Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. (Psalm 39:4–5, NIV)
If we would make different choices knowing it was our last chance to show our children how very much we love them, then shouldn’t those choices also prevail on a daily basis? Our job as parents is to build a legacy of love and faith. That doesn’t happen in a day. It happens day by day by day by day. Every day. Today.
We can choose to live today like it matters for tomorrow. That requires some self-examination. Is God on the throne of our hearts, first and foremost? Are we pointing our children to him in the everyday scenery of family life? Are we delivering more hugs than hollering, more grace than grief, and more attention than distraction?
Are we seeing these little people for who they are—gifts from the Lord who deserve to be cherished, nurtured, and enjoyed?
It shouldn’t take a life or death moment to remind us.
Let’s start today—loving our kids like there is no tomorrow.