People Don’t Come with Expiration Dates
by Tim Healy
“Oh man, I better eat this before it expires!”
How many times have you gone through your fridge and said something like this in your life? A carton of milk, a package of raw chicken, a container of fresh strawberries. These things all come with expiration dates. If you don’t use them in time, they go bad and end up in the garbage, simply to be replaced on your next trip to the store. We know we better savor these items before it’s too late.
Our friends, family, coworkers, and customers – they don’t come with an expiration date. So often, we take our time together for granted. We’ll tell our loved one that important thing next time we talk. We’ll take that trip together next year. We have all the time in the world to make memories. Then, suddenly, the expiration date comes. This time, a quick trip to the corner store isn’t enough to replace what we’ve lost.
Sadly, my family recently faced two tragedies. On the morning of Saturday, June 6th, my sister Maureen died of COVID-19 at the very young age of 56. The following Saturday morning, June 13th my Aunt Anne passed from COVID-19 at the age of 75.
Unfortunately, my sister and aunt did not come with visible expiration dates. In two moments, the potential for all the things we wanted to say, places we wanted to go to, and memories we could have made together expired.
How would our relationships be different if we took advantage of every moment before that expiration date comes? What would change in life if we treated our relationships with the same urgency that we show our perishable food items?
My sister Maureen was one of the most selfless and caring souls you could meet. She was one of the rare people that, after meeting her for the first time, you couldn’t help but think how sweet and kind she was. After her passing my brother Chuck asked me, “Were you ever mad at Maureen?” I was stumped. No one ever asked me that before. Besides the typical sibling spats growing up, I could not recall a time I had a reason to be mad. Maureen was always happy and always had a smile even when she suffered.
Maureen would never miss sending a card for a holiday. She even sent us cards for St. Patrick’s Day. I remember saying, “Maureen, it’s so sweet you sent us a St. Patrick’s Day card, but you know I’ll never send you one.” She replied, “Timothy, don’t worry – I just love doing it. It makes me feel good.”
Like so many older sisters, she spoiled me as her younger brother. In actuality, she spoiled everyone she loved. She spoiled them not just with gifts or cards, but with things that were more important – love and thoughtfulness.
We used to joke with her, calling her a Professional Cryer. Maureen would cry for all moments happy and sad. You could always tell when she was about to cry as her chin would quiver. It was so cute.
While I was working in New York City, I told her of a crush I had on a coworker, a girl named Carrie. I had talked to her many times about Carrie and finally one day Maureen wanted to know if I asked Carrie out. I said, “No way! What if she says no? It will be embarrassing, and we work together.” I still remember it like it was yesterday: Maureen looked me in the eyes and said, “What if someone else asks her out?” Thanks to Maureen’s advice, I married the woman of my dreams. Thanks Maureen!
I could continue with countless amazing memories of Maureen that myself and my family have been blessed with – and it is those memories we will cherish and lean on to mourn her loss.
I look back at the last visit and conversation that we had. Of course, I had no idea it would be the last time that I spoke to her. I wish I knew at the time.
If the coronavirus pandemic has reminded me of anything, it’s the importance of relationships. I’ve already spoken on maintaining and growing your business relationships during this time, but these lessons should extend to our personal lives as well.
Human beings do come with expiration dates. Unfortunately, unlike the dates on cartons of milk or packages of meat, we don’t know when those expiration dates are. All we can do is stop taking these conversations, these visits, and these plans for granted.
I would ask that you keep my family in your prayers, especially my Mom and Dad. Finally, Maureen loved to give big long hugs! I would do anything for just one more of her hugs. In memory of my sister, if you have siblings, make sure you tell them you love them and give them a big long hug!