“Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity .”
— H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Several years ago, I knew a young woman diagnosed with cancer.
Her name was Hayden.
The type of cancer she had was incredibly rare, with a mortality rate of 100%.
During the two years after her diagnosis, I spoke to her a couple of times but didn’t see her much.
The last time I saw her was at the grocery store.
At this point, I knew she was near the end, on hospice, and not doing well — it was the last few weeks of her life.
I saw her passing while in the store, and this sounds terrible…
…but I intentionally avoided her.
I went down another aisle because I didn’t want to run into her.
Because I didn’t know what to say. I’d never spoken with the dying before.
Everything that I would normally say…
Hey, how are you?
How’s your day going?
What do you have planned for the week?
None of it felt like the right thing to say to a person who had only weeks to live.
So I avoided her.
And she died a week later.
Hayden taught me a very important lesson that day.
When an opportunity passes us by, we need to be prepared to take it.
Too often when we pass up on these moments because we think there’ll be another chance or we have time to do it later.
But with Hayden, I missed my last chance to say hello, and in another way, goodbye.
Now, I’m very intentional about reaching out to my loved ones and being ready both mentally and physically for opportunities as they come my way.
I think this applies not to just loved ones and death but when any opportunity in life is presented to you.
Being ready means knowing when an opportunity is before you.
Mark Twain said:
“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”
It means recognizing you can do more with what you have.
Have 20 minutes before you leave for dinner?
Call your grandparents.
Have an idea in a work meeting?
Speak up and share.
Have the chance to take a trip to Thailand?
Learn from your mistakes, and be ready when the next one comes your way.