Maybe it's the time of year. Autumn is often a time when we realize beauty is fleeting and so is life itself.

Or maybe it's because we all grow more introspective as we get older.

Whatever the reason, I have this indelible imprint on my mind reminding me that life is fragile and our hold on it is tenuous, at best.

Someone said it best a long time ago in just three words: Life is short.

We hear that repeated so much that it becomes a cliché to which we pay little attention. But then, wham! Something happens that drives home the message. One split second can change our world or at least drastically alter our perceptions of what is important and what isn't.

For my friend Connie, what was important to her was remodeling the home she recently purchased. Excited at the thought of living independently for the first time in her life in a home of her own choosing, she was happily picking flooring, kitchen cabinets and paint.

She and I share the same grandchildren and we've shared each other's lives ever since my daughter Andrea married her son.

So there we were, chatting together as we waited for our grandsons' concert to begin. Connie was leafing through a home magazine, asking my opinion about her plans for a new kitchen.

Suddenly, her eyes grew wide as she reached up to rub her neck and felt a swollen lymph gland.

I have lymphoma," she declared with tears in her eyes.

I told her there are dozens of reasons why we get swollen lymph glands and most of them are only our body's way of fighting infection. I reminded her that I, too, had swollen lymph glands last week after a wasp sting caused an infection in my arm.

No, No!" said Connie. I know I have lymphoma. What's the use of sitting here planning a house when I won't live to be in it?"

That was crazy talk, we told her. We urged her to go to her doctor the next day because then her worries would be eased.

But the crazy thing is what grew out of that medical appointment: Tests revealed she did, indeed, have lymphoma a rare two kinds in fact. She's now undergoing treatment at one of the finest medical facilities in the country and her prognosis is good.

But I am shaken, once again, by the fragility of life and by the fact that life, as we know it, can change in a heartbeat.

I've always known that, but the message hit home in 1984 in a profound way when I was diagnosed with a growth on my brain.

I tell people now that the experience was life changing and was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I learned back then how tenuous is our lease on life and I vowed never to waste one day of life. It's a vow I have kept.

Readers know I've written many times about the importance of cherishing every moment of life and of squeezing every ounce of pleasure out of each day.

It's a message I can't deliver often enough.

Why is it, I wonder, that some people live as if they will be here forever…as if they will have a million tomorrows to forgive a hurt, to heal a relationship, or to share feelings with a loved one?

If we truly believed life was short and we never know when our lease will be up, would we waste a day in anger?

Would we put our pride over someone's feelings?

Would we put off a visit to family?

Would we fail to say the words we keep hidden in our heart?

I think not. It's another cliché to talk about living each day of life as if it's our last.

But what if it is? How would you want to live it? I know my answer.

I want to love with every fiber in my body.

I want to share my feelings with loved ones so they know my heart.

I want to cherish every moment of every single day.

The words to the song by Cool and the Gang say it so well.

Let's cherish every moment we have been given for time is passing by.

Cherish the love we have.

Cherish the life we live.

Cherish the love,

Cherish the life."

The song's repetitive rhythm is hypnotic.

Its message is one that can't be repeated often enough.