Oct. 2, is my late mother’s birthday. She died suddenly in 1998 from complications following a respiratory arrest. She was 65. Ten years earlier, my younger sister died in a car accident at age 23. I dedicate this piece to both of them, two of the people I loved most in this world and who taught me never to schedule what matters for someday.

"Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero. Seize today, and put as little trust as you can in the morrow." - Horace

You could say 1988 was the year that I lived like there was no tomorrow. It had nothing to do reckless spending, learning to sky dive or being diagnosed with a rare, intractable disease; it had everything to do with making my self available… for life at full speed and spending time with those I loved.

We hear a lot about living in the present, embracing the moment and the power of now, yet often neglect to put the theory into practice; 1988 was my opportunity to change that …forever. The events of that year brought home the "power of now" with all the subtlety of a car accident—more accurately, two car accidents.

It began in January with the perfect remedy for an unfortunate oversight; my younger sister Grace and I, two cosmopolitan Prairie girls both in our twenties, had never been to New York City. It was at the top of our "Must Do" list.

I booked a flight and a weeklong getaway to the city that never sleeps as a surprise Christmas gift for my sister. It was seven days and six very long nights of non-stop Manhattan madness. We shopped at Macy’s, Bloomington’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, strolled through Central Park, Rockefeller Plaza and along Fifth Avenue; saw Cats and A Chorus Line on Broadway; dined at the Russian Tea Room; saw the Manhattan skyline from a helicopter, a ferry and a yellow cab; partied like misguided socialites at the Lime Light and Palladium night clubs; cheered for the Knicks at Madison Square Gardens; and applauded wildly in the studio audience for David Letterman’s anniversary show at Radio City, listening to live performances by Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel and Carly Simon. All of it a never- ending lucid dream in one of the world’s greatest cities.

We used every New York minute to take the biggest, sweetest bite we could from the Big Apple … and savoured the juice.

In February, a close encounter with a moving car brought life’s fragility to my attention. I was hit at pedestrian crosswalk by a young driver who passed the van that had stopped to allow me to cross the wide boulevard of Portage Avenue. I bounced off the hood of her car, was thrown about 15 feet from the point of impact and landed, smashing my right knee on the pavement. Miraculously, I had no other injuries. The ER doctor told me I could have been killed … I knew that. But a last minute action-hero-inspired-instinct to leap on the car’s hood probably saved my life, and certainly my legs.

Shaken but awakened by the incident, I didn’t let a battered knee and some crushed cartilage keep me from a winter escape to California with my 23 year-old sister and my sixty-something father. Though my sister and I had previously explored the Magic Kingdom, this time we were taking Dad to Disneyland, and to see his best friend in Orange County. My golden-haired sister and I, on our second vacation in as many months, were happy, pre-tanned chaperons. On the flight down to L.A., the male flight attendant, noticing my Dad was flanked by two young blondes, asked him if he was traveling with Charlie’s Angels.

In June, when the long days of summer rolled around, Grace decided to take on a French immersion course in Jonquiere, Quebec. We sent her off to La Belle Province with a French-inspired fete of berets, baguettes and bons moments with her closest friends.

In September, she and I rendezvoused with her new found bilingual friends in Montreal for an Amnesty International concert and a few days of old world charm in Vieux Montreal. There’s a photo of all of us overlooking the city from Mount Royal, looking like college kids filled with optimism and standing at the top of the world. That scene is forever etched in my mind. That and the sound of Bruce Springsteen belting out Born in the USA live at Olympic Stadium.

Our adventures in New York, California and Quebec marked 1988 as a year to remember – the months imbued with a feeling of endless celebration. We were living large, living in the moment, and enjoying the languorous luxury of time without taking it for granted.

In November, we took a weekend road trip to visit our older sister Elaine for a quiet family celebration with a rural setting and home cooking.

On the highway home, in a pitch-black November night, my sporty Toyota Celica was hit head-on by a drunk driver. I survived; my little sister did not. She died instantly, six inches from my side in the passenger seat.

At her funeral, we celebrated—for the last time—a life lived fully, with an open heart, a sense of adventure and a deep love for family and friends… right to the final breath.

Looking back, I realize that I seized every opportunity that year to celebrate life, as if I had some advanced notice – even if only subconsciously – that 1988 was the best year available to live flat-out, to laugh loudly and to cherish each moment with loved ones, like they might be my last.

Nineteen ninety-eight was the year that my younger sister and I made ourselves available for the people, places and things that mattered. We set dates, booked the time and, most importantly, showed up. "Someday" was not on our calendar.

What are you waiting to do "someday"?

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Edie is a freelance writer who likes to tell a great story and help others tell theirs - in print or online. That includes feature articles for magazines & newspapers, as well as creative content for websites and corporate publications.

I believe that powerful writing, too, can link the artistic with the practical.

My feature writing has appeared in: Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, The Western Producer, The Cottager, Manitoba Business Magazine, Manitoba’s Northern Experience, Home & City, Manitoba Gardener, Ciao and up! (WestJet’s magazine).