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Warmest regards: Celebrating life even in tough times

When was the last time you celebrated life - your life!

When was the last time you saw a day of life as something to celebrate?

What does it take for you to think a day deserves to be celebrated?

Perhaps you’ll say it takes a special occasion such as a birthday. Or, spending time with someone you love.

My friend Andy just had a celebration so significant he had to post it on Facebook.

He was celebrating the fifth anniversary of the worst day of his life.

Not too many of us would celebrate a day so bad it’s memorable.

But Andy didn’t want to forget the day he was at his lowest point in life.

He was lying in a hospital bed feeling so miserable he said he didn’t care if he lived or died at that point.

He didn’t say it out loud but Andy might have thought life was unfair.

A bachelor at 60 years of age, he finally found a woman he wanted to marry. They had a simple ceremony with a magistrate and thought they were lucky to have found each other.

Just one month after their marriage, Andy knew he wasn’t so lucky after all when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

He knew he married the right woman as she proved to be his unfailing support system through his war with cancer treatments.

Little by little, Andy won that war.

“I credit my wife and God for getting me through it,” he said.

Five years later, he’s still filled with gratitude. “Life is good,” he says, “and every moment is precious.”

Every moment is precious.

Through the past five years, that’s been the uppermost thought in his life.

He didn’t just beat cancer and then go on with his life. I don’t think surviving cancer changed him into a thankful person. He’s always been grateful for each day of life.

Now though, he’s more vocal about his feelings of gratitude.

When he says “every moment of life is precious,” it’s more than just words.

As I’ve watched him through the years I see so many instances where he refuses to waste a day harboring bad feelings.

He holds on to each day as something precious, something to celebrate.

Celebrating the fifth anniversary of what he calls “the worst day of his life” just reminds him how fragile life can be … and of our need to cherish every single day.

He celebrates not just the good days or the special days. Like he says, every day of life is a gift.

Last week I wrote about Ken Ryno and his spectacular recovery from life as a quadriplegic. For more than two decades of not being able to move a muscle after a motorcycle accident, he never stopped trying to work his muscles.

Finally, after 24 years his persistence was rewarded and he was able to walk again.

While I was so impressed with Ken for not giving up, I was moved even more by his love of life and by the joy that radiates from within him.

Just in case you’re thinking that joy was there only because he could walk again, please take note of what happened years later when failed back surgery again took away Ken’s ability to walk.

His joy and his gratitude for life remained.

He’s been through more medical trauma than most people will ever encounter. It doesn’t take away his appreciation for life.

He and his wife, JoAnn, never waver in their strong faith.

“We hold onto all the joy and we love every moment of every day,” says JoAnn.

Are you seeing a theme here?

I hope you realize I’m not just writing about those who make it through illness and infirmity.

This is about those who appreciate all of life. Regardless.

Regardless of setbacks.

Regardless of hardships.

Regardless of loss.

Regardless of changes hard to accept.

Isn’t that the challenge for each of us?

It’s easy to love life through the good times and the highs.

But isn’t it harder to maintain our appreciation of life when everything goes wrong?

That’s the challenge we each need to overcome.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.