In this life, it is easy not to appreciate all that we have. We are so blessed by conveniences and accessibility that we start to take the steady things in our lives for granted. Our family, friends, food, clothes, and the one that’s most apparent to me—health.
I don’t say this lightly—never take your health for granted, please.
Take a deep breath in.
Do 10 jumping jacks.
Walk to shul on a nice Shabbos morning.
Cook dinner, enjoy it, clean up.
Dance around and laugh with your best friend.
Every single one of these things is made possible by being healthy. Because so many of them are second nature, we don’t think about the effort really needed to do them. Until we get sick, and suddenly we can’t stop coughing or make ourselves get out of bed. But, thank G-d, once we heal, we forget about that hardship.
I was that person. Yes, I grew up with medical issues and spent an abnormal amount of time between doctors and hospitals, but I was never held back from doing anything. My parents made sure that I never felt stifled and that I took full advantage of every opportunity. I danced, played hockey, acted, traveled—I did it all. My health never stopped me…until I turned 12 and got a condition known as lymphedema, which causes the chronic swelling of my right leg. Even then, I still managed to do whatever I set my mind to.
Flash forward 10 years, and I am 22 years old and being diagnosed with a chronic and terminal condition known as Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. This condition causes lack of blood and oxygen flow, due to problematic arteries in the heart. I had never felt like my health could hold me back from anything (I moved to New York by myself and dominated at only 18!), but here I sat with my parents, and the doctor looked me in the eye and told me that the prognosis for this condition isn’t a strong one—a year and a half, seven if we strike luck. Talk about getting the breath knocked out of you.
All of a sudden, I regretted every time I had ever taken my health for granted. All the missed opportunities, the things I had passed up, because surely, they’d occur again. Going to the mountains, traveling to visit my best friend (and maybe even moving there one day), swimming in the ocean, dancing freely without care, singing at the top of my lungs, even running up and down those crazy long stairs in my seminary dorm…these are all things I wish I would have appreciated more while I was in the moment, and I wish I wouldn’t have taken them for granted. I thought about the future I might have been able to have had, and all the things I would miss. Health isn’t just for the here and now; it’s for the tomorrow as well.
Life is precious and fragile. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Always and without fail, and we don’t know when our end will be. G-d willing, we will all live until 120, and Moshiach will be here way before then, but the practical side of me sees the reality for myself.
Never take your health or your loved ones’ health, for granted. Live each day fully and with gratitude to the One who gave it all to you. We may not know what life will have in store for us, but we can take in each moment like it’s the first and last, live life like a child who’s experiencing everything for the first time, and with a zest and joy that doesn’t dissipate.
We have one life, and one chance, to experience it all. Don’t wait until tomorrow—do what you love and what you want to today…and never take it for granted.