In an Instant

Life is unpredictable. One May morning, a few years back, I said a quick goodbye to my wife, Jennifer, and hurried out the door at 7:30 to run some morning errands. At 8:58 she called me to tell me she was okay but her car had been knocked off a highway interchange by a hit and run driver.

By the time I arrived, she was simply sitting in her car on the side of the road; the emergency responders had finished and left. Bumped and bruised, but escaping serious injury, Jennifer described what happened during her normally routine drive work. As I listened to her reconstruction of the accident, I could feel myself becoming increasingly nauseous as the reality of its seriousness began to sink in. The impact literally caused her car to be struck by a second car, turn sideways, travel 75 ft down and embankment, bounce off a concrete drainage ditch, under a chain link fence, and crossways onto the service road, where the fence’s cable stopped the car by somehow hooking its luggage rack. To her right, was a semi-truck who’s alert copilot spotted her careening car early enough to warn the driver and stop the truck. We are counting our blessings in that any part of this accident could have resulted in tragedy.

In the days since the accident, Jennifer has mentally replayed the entire sequence many, many times; somewhat intrigued at how many thoughts can go through your mind so quickly. One such thought was, “What would Mitch do, if something happened to me? Are all our things in order?” I think all adults have this thought from time to time. Unfortunately, taking action to organize our hectic lives is often put-off until an event such as this reminds us of our mortality; or, until it is too late.

We are all familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote “There are only two things certain in life: death and taxes.” Each year we must dedicate time to preparing our taxes, but how much time do we dedicate to preparing for life’s other certainty? Typically, not much. It may seem overwhelming or impossible (like trying to herd cats). But it can be done. We’ve recently taken steps to organize our information. Perhaps by sharing some of our thoughts and steps through this blog, we can empower others to do the same.

But let’s get real for a moment, thoughts and steps are great, but action is what gets things done; and action takes motivation. It’s often difficult to commit our time and energy to an unclear idea. But vague and complex tasks can usually be broken into more basic steps and easily completed.

1. Identify the need. Could yours, your parents, your children’s, or possibly all three households gain serious benefit from a little overdue organization?
2. Have that difficult discussion. Get together with your loved ones to discuss the risks to their lives if one of you was suddenly lost or otherwise incapacitated.
3. Make a decision to take action. Start a journal to write down what action is to be taken by who. Set a date for the next discussion. Distribute this information to everyone involved. These simple actions create a sense of accountability and greatly increase the chances that this important endeavor won’t be pushed aside by the other activities of life.

That’s enough to get started. Keep an eye on this page. I’ll be providing some more thoughts in the near future. Good luck and get started!

Thanks for reading,