About a year ago I came across a girl on YouTube named Claire Wineland. She was 21 year old girl with cystic fibrosis who documented the ups and downs of her journey living with this disease on YouTube. I watched a couple of her videos and thought that she was an incredible girl, but didn’t keep up with her past those couple of videos. Then, in September of 2018, I heard she had died one week after receiving her long awaited lung transplant. In sad situations like these where life doesn’t make sense or seem fair, I tend to try and forget about the story to save myself from heartbreak. However recently, I came across Claire again amongst my recommended videos on YouTube. Her video was a part of a series called My Last Days produced by Justin Baldoni. Justin created this series to find out and share the unique perspectives of life from people who are dying. A more detailed description of his series can be found here.
I watched Claire’s episode, Meet Claire, Finding Beauty in the Sadness, and what she said brought me to full blown tears, “you don’t need to know you’re dying to start living.” Something so simple that essentially everyone knows, but so many people forget to put into practice; myself included. We all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we often forget what a gift each day truly is; that each day is a new opportunity for us to make a positive impact in the world.
Hearing Claire say this lead me to reflect on what I want to be remembered for during this little life of mine. The fact of the matter is, we all have an expiration date and none of us know when it is. So I asked myself, “if I die tomorrow, what will I be remembered for?” I can only hope that I will be remembered for how I made others feel. In my 23 years of life, I hope I’ve made the people I’ve crossed paths with feel as though they are loved for exactly who they are and that they are innately deserving of love and belonging. I also hope I’m remembered for actively spreading and practicing kindness, as that is a daily goal of mine. Claire said that we have no control over when we die, however we do have control over creating a life that we’re proud of, and at this point, I will say that I am proud of my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t have room for improvement though because I always will! I feel as though we tell ourselves that we’ll have time to create this life we’ll be proud of someday. We tell ourselves that we’ll start doing things when we have the money and time. But how do we know we will have this time? Since Claire new roughly when her expiry date was (which not many of us do), it was obvious through the way she spoke how much she saw every day as a gift and was actively making the most out of every second she’d been given.
What if we all lived like we were dying tomorrow, like Claire did? What would you do differently? How would you treat others differently? I know this is a short blog this week, but really, it all boils down to one question: what do you want to be remembered for?
Rest in peace, Claire Wineland. Thank you for dedicating your life to serving others and teaching me how to treat every day as the gift it truly is. You are an inspiration to all of us.
If you would like to donate or find out more about Claire’s Place Foundation, you can check out the website here.