Life is short. Enjoy it now

Life is short isn’t it?

I heard a song the other day that said: “Life is a game you can’t win so enjoy the ride.” I’m sure that there are about a hundred variations of that in song or poems or drunken reflections, but it’s all true.

I figure I’ve delivered a couple of dozen death messages in my career—mostly in the early days when I worked the road.

The first time was unbelievably hard. All I can remember is taking advice from “The Godfather” movie, choosing to deliver the bad news quickly. It was something that I always remembered. They know you’re there for bad news because it’s all over your face. There is no sense asking them to sit or otherwise prolong what you need to say. It’s once you say it that you need to take time with them.

People react differently. Some get angry, some just don’t believe a word of it and some just stare at you.

I worked a traffic fatality one night. I drove to the woman’s apartment and spoke with her fiancé. I sat him down and told him she had been killed in a car accident. The man got up and looked around and then started cussing. I couldn’t figure that one out. He was mad but I couldn’t figure out what he was mad at. He wasn’t mad like mad at the world for his fiancé dying but rather “I’m inconvenienced mad.”

Turns out he was a semi-awful musician and she worked at a small record label and he was more upset that he was losing his record contact than losing a fiancé. Strange dude. I left there feeling sorry for her that she spent her last days with this clown. I never felt sorry for him.

Death is a strange thing. It is the most sobering thing you can think of. It’s the final act in your life.

Most police officers, firefighters and EMS people see it from an impersonal view. We’re only involved until that time is over and then we’re gone. In this business, it’s business. Investigations call for things to be done quickly. There’s an order to a death investigation and there’s little time to reflect on the victim. Being professional means you don’t have personal involvement.

Back to life. They say “Life is short. Be happy.”

You hear that all the time but the day-to-day gets you back to the mindset that has you putting out fires in your professional and personal life. “Life is short” is something you forget easily. The next thing you know it’s 10 years later.

You would think that people in law enforcement or public safety would have a healthy reminder each day that life is short. Not really. We do like everyone else and forget it—until we get the wakeup call that comes every so often. We all get that call.

Today I was surfing around Facebook and came across my cigar guy’s Facebook page. I have a guy for certain things. I have a car guy, boat guy and cigar guy. I looked it over and then read a sentence on the top of the page. The sentence was written by a friend of his. Kevin, my cigar guy, had died.

He was 40 years old. Forty is the age when you should start enjoying things that you were too immature to appreciate at an earlier age.

I would make it a point to stop in and talk with him for a while, buy some cigars, tell him goodbye, and in a few days later I would again stop in just to catch up. Now he’s gone.

Just like that. Once again it’s a reminder that people are here and then they’re gone too soon—and it makes you sad.

Life is short folks. Enjoy it now.

33 comments Add your comment

Mr. Ed

November 2nd, 2010
11:10 am

One does not fear death itself, but rather the realization of their own mortality”
— Joy Stroube

Cop Supporter

November 2nd, 2010
11:13 am

Great article Lt. Steve, and so very true.
Sorry about the lose of your friend.

just lost my buddy

November 2nd, 2010
11:15 am

healthy guy – 6′1″, 185 lbs. professional, harvard grad, heart attack killed him in a restaurant on thursday. no signs of poor health.

life is fragile people. it can vanish in an instant. get over your pettiness, your dramatics and histrionics. give some hugs. have a laugh. smoke a cigar. and be generous with your time and your money.

Van Jones

November 2nd, 2010
11:20 am

Good article, Steve. We’ve missed you for the past few weeks.

kelvin

November 2nd, 2010
12:17 pm

Just be ready. Whatever that may mean to you.

Big Nick

November 2nd, 2010
12:38 pm

Today is going to be a HUGE day for all us who have been faslely labeled “racists, bigots, sexists, homophobes, etc.” by the Pro-Amnesty, Pro-Entitlement & Pro-Union Democrats…Get out and VOTE for the Pro-American, Pro-Business & Pro-Defense Republicans!!!

Patriot

November 2nd, 2010
12:42 pm

Life is short. Enjoy it now. But don’t even think of engaging in any activity that does no harm to anyone else but which the government in its infinite wisdom has deemed illegal. Things like drugs, prostitution, and gambling come to mind (and buying/selling alcohol on Sunday). Well, gambling is ok so long as the government gets its cut. Drugs are ok so long as they are sold somewhere the government can get a sales tax cut and its friends in BigPharma can get their profits, but not those that are sold by consenting adults without the government getting its cut. As for prostitution, its ok to prostitute yourself for campaign contributions, but not so that you can put food on the table (again, as in Nevada, unless the government gets its cut). And don’t look to the cops to inject any sanity into the discussion. They are busing taking people’s homes and cars and businesses under criminal “asset forfeiture laws” so that they can sell them to buy new toys for themselves and their departments (like fast cars and night vision goggles). Also, folks selling drugs, gambling, and engaging in prostitution are easy to catch and prosecute unlike those folks who murder, rape, and commit crimes that actually impact the citizens.

But go ahead and enjoy life (within the confines and limits of our “free society”).

Jimmy

November 2nd, 2010
12:59 pm

Hey Big Nick – I just cancelled out all of your votes!

Uncle Sam

November 2nd, 2010
1:02 pm

Hey “Patriot” – you’re free to leave the country any time. Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.

TrippDawg

November 2nd, 2010
1:11 pm

Great (and oh so true) article. I’ve always tried to live by one of Johnny Mercer’s songs. We all need to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Just concentrate on what makes you happy and life will be time well spent. I know it’s easier said than done sometimes, but keep trying.

Janet Grimmette

November 2nd, 2010
9:46 pm

Oh Steve how I wish you’d publish a book of all your experiences. What a best seller it would be.

Melinda

November 3rd, 2010
12:49 pm

Another great article Steve, thank you. I got this lesson last year (Nov 29th). It was my 40th birthday and I had a great day, getting older has never bothered me, I just wish it would happen a little slower. My brother called me just after I went to bed, I thought to tell me Happy Birthday because he had forgotten but instead he was calling to tell me one of our sisters had died; she was only 47.

Biteme

November 3rd, 2010
3:07 pm

Big Nick and Patriot. You’re idiots.

1911A1

November 3rd, 2010
4:26 pm

I try to remember that every day is a gift. Easier to remember some days than others, but still worth hanging my hat on.

Billy

November 3rd, 2010
6:52 pm

Good article. Sad, but good.

Susan

November 4th, 2010
12:18 pm

Steve, thanks for this sobering reminder….and it also reminds us to never forget to tell those we love, that we love them. Don’t say, “Oh, I will do that tomorrow”…because as we see, tomorrow may never arrive.

Walter LIttle, Jr.

November 4th, 2010
7:12 pm

I have to agree with Steve. As a Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) member, I get to see all to often how people’s lives can be changed in an instant.

E.J.

November 4th, 2010
9:37 pm

Steve, if you can’t do it before then, be sure to plan on writing that book when you retire. You could easily sell enough to live quite comfortably the rest of your, hopefully, many long days – enjoying life.

kar

November 5th, 2010
9:21 am

My father used to do death notices in the service. He said more than once they’d see him coming down the street. When he knocked on the front door they’d slip out the back. I guess they felt that if they didn’t hear the news, it wasn’t real.

Patriot

November 5th, 2010
11:43 am

I guess it doesn’t matter that this USED to be a FREE country. The legislature at the federal and state levels violates the constitution, you are fine with that, and I am supposed to leave this country if I don’t like it. We are definitely getting the government we deserve.

Sandy Springs

November 5th, 2010
4:43 pm

Patriot, totally disagree with your negative take on our America and happy that you are blessed in this great country of ours, America, to write this type of uninformed venom. I did however appreciate your opinion and thanks for giving me an opportunity to say this:
You do not sound as though you are a Patriot to me. With forethought I find your opinion to be that of a pessimistic non-intellectual American who insults the rest of us. Oh you may have a great job, big house, nice car, and a fancy laptop and your other “toys” that cause you to have a false impression that you have made it in America, but your concept of the true spirit of the America I love is way off track. Indeed and also your opinion of “forfeiture asset” law enforcement is embarrassingly inaccurate.
Americas, from coast to coast both republicans and democrats and independents voted loudly on Tuesday to say something has gone askew in our country and we want new faces to determine the underlying cause of why our great country has lost some of the respect we give each other. The kind of disrespect you give to Mr. Rose with your comment. You sir have shamed yourself.
When did you stop respecting our great America and the GOOD PEOPLE like the many police agencies across the country were 140 officer have been killed protecting us this year, 5 were Georgia Police Officers. At the very least you should respect police officer’s enough to choose your words more wisely.

I think it’s wonderful that drug dealers lose their property to the American public by means of asset forfeiture laws. It is our American children being poisoned by these drug dealers. By forfeiture of asset to law enforcement (normally on the federal level) it helps the American Public in many ways. Most important of all it takes the drug dealer off of the streets of America, PERMANTLY.
Now let’s talk about the fact that it t his captured drugs off the streets and away from all Americans. The forfeited assets provide for many different programs, such as the Dare Program (teaches kids to say no to drugs), bullet proof vests, video cameras for cars (protects AMERICANS as well as the Officer) some needed equipment such as remote bomb detecting mini robots (saves live during terrorist attacks) and let’s not forget about the printed educational materials handed out at festivals, schools and other places, such as coloring books and crayons that teach our children about strangers. There so much more I could say that makes your point of view sound even more foolish but break is over. Stop embarrassing yourself.
Peace and Hope to you Sir. Peace for America and hope that you discover the “true spirit” of makes America worth dying for by our many Americans who choose to become police officers. God Bless them all.

Gorgeous+Sassy

November 6th, 2010
3:49 pm

Yes, life is very, very short. Tell the people that mean the most to you I love you and I care about you TODAY because TOMORROW they could be gone from our lives. Children, love your parents and remember to thank them for bringing you into this world. Husbands and Wives, love each other and treat the other as you would a guest. And remember, when special people walk into your life for how ever short that time may be, treasure it, embrace it and never let it go. And after all is said and done, when these precious people of our lives leave this world, you will have only memories to cherish. Some people are so special that you would miss them them even if you had never met them. Tell that person today just how much they mean to you. For tomorrow, they could be gone.

Gorgeous+Sassy

November 6th, 2010
3:52 pm

What I wrote above is for JCZ and MHM…..

Answer me This

November 6th, 2010
7:39 pm

Still breaking traffic laws Steve? I’m sure you are. All police do.

Mike

November 7th, 2010
4:42 pm

Answer Me This, I am a cop and I do not go aroung breaking traffic laws, and then stopping people for the same thing. I stop at stop signs, red lights, and do not make turns when the sign say’s not to. I am not the hypocrite that you seem to think all cops are.

Dell

November 7th, 2010
5:47 pm

The death message is a part of the cop job I hadn’t really thought about. I cannot imagine having to do that. A bit kinder view toward cops after reading this.

Madison

November 7th, 2010
7:15 pm

Never compare a cop to a fireman. Fireman are great people that will put their life on the line for you. Most cops are just bullies that have a gun and a attitude. I bet Steve has pushed more people around than you will ever guess.

Gorgeous+Sassy

November 7th, 2010
9:51 pm

I know Firefighters and Cops…they are all fine MEN and will do anything to protect us. Cops are not bullies…..I admire and respect these people because they certainly are not in Law Enforcement and The Fire Department for the money. The ones I know are Polite and TOUGH and I am proud of the work that they do……I LOVE COPS :)

Wreck

November 8th, 2010
2:14 am

“Answer me this” and Madison…you are bigots of a different kind, but bigots all the same.

Although, I generally dislike people with an irrational hatred/fear of cops, so I guess I’m in the same boat.

Cop Supporter

November 8th, 2010
2:18 pm

Why do you have to bash Cops? They put there lives on the line for your safety and protection, unfortunately there are cops who do not follow all the rules but you cannot categorize all cops into that negative mind frame.
No I am not a cop nor am I in a relationship with one but I do have a couple of cop friends and they are fair, hard workers and they are great caring people.
I think anyone who posst negative comments on here are just craving attention and I feel sorry for you.
I fully support cops and everything they do….I LOVE COPS

BeeGee

November 8th, 2010
4:09 pm

@ Patriot, you are obviously one of those people who have never experienced an honest life event. You live in your very narrow universe with no humanity in your cold heart. You totally do not get what Lt. Steve is saying, that he misses his friend and will never have the chance to pass some time with him.

My daughter was kidnapped from her college campus and murdered – I know how to separate the small $*#@ from the big $*#@; I pity you.

insomniac

November 9th, 2010
3:51 am

My 91 y/o dad has always had the same philosphy ever since I can remember: Time passes far too quickly, and sadly, we lose so many loved ones too soon. Live life and enjoy it, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Since you just never know when your number will be up, don’t waste your time agonizing over something that won’t make a difference in any tomorrow. I think his philosophy speaks volumes given his longevity. He has always been a wise man and is loved by all whose lives he has touched. When anyone asks for him, it is always with a smile. He was a policeman for over 30 years and has been retired for almost as long.

BeeGee: So very sorry for your loss.

Super

November 9th, 2010
8:45 am

Public saftey is a calling. More so than even a job. It’s more like your choosen for who you are it’s what you do in life. Public safety. Law officers are respected. Feared. (important for those who would do our citizens harm. They are very much loved by the law abiding citizens in the communities where they work. They are larger than life authority for everyone.