Unfortunately, some of us are forced to face our mortality sooner than we wish. What if you were one of those unlucky ones? What would you think about? What would be on your bucket list? Where would you want to visit? What advice would you give to the world?
Holly Butcher, a 27-year-old young woman from New South Wales, Australia, offered an inspirational post on social media. Holly lost her battle with Ewing’s sarcoma – skin cancer. She passed away last week. But before she died, she posted this last bit of advice to help us all chill out and really return to loving what matters most in this world and in our lives.
During their immense grief, Holly’s family decided to share her sage words so more people might take something from them: “It’s a strange thing to realize and accept your mortality at 26-years-young. It’s just one of those things you ignore,” Holly began.
“The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; Until the unexpected happens.”
“I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey- most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts.”
I can almost feel Holly’s pain; intentions are just that until they become your reality. Don’t put something off you want desperately in life. You might miss your opportunity.
“That’s the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.
“I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy.. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands.”
It’s not hard to understand why someone as young as Holly would have difficulty accepting her fate. But with the inevitable come thoughts and advice one normally wouldn’t consider. She urged everyone to: “stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember we all have the same fate after it all, so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit.”
Smart girl she is, Holly’s recorded these pearls of wisdom and collected them for this exact purpose: “Those times you are whining about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem.
“Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively affect other people’s days.”
“Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; It is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that – breathe.”
How many of us neglect taking that simple action? Do you ever consciously tell yourself to take a break to smell the flowers and the fresh air? Think of all the energy and sunlight you’re missing out on and how invigorated you’d feel if you did.
Holly next turns to those of us who drive to and from work and the frustrations we face while on the road: “You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. Your new fake nails might have got a chip, your boobs are too small, or you have cellulite on your arse and your belly is wobbling.”
“Let all that sh*t go. I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole.”
For Holly, this must have been a horrible experience to endure. I can’t imagine what seeing her waste away before their eyes did to her family and friends. If anyone has the right to offer words about letting go of your own insecurities, it’s Holly. She couldn’t change a damn thing. But you can.
“I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more Birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more.”
“I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise – Be grateful you are physically able to.”
“Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things … until your body doesn’t allow you to do either of them.
“I tried to live a healthy life, in fact, that was probably my major passion. Appreciate your good health and functioning body- even if it isn’t your ideal size. Look after it and embrace how amazing it is. Move it and nourish it with fresh food. Don’t obsess over it.”
Holly next tackled social media and how if we found emotional and spiritual happiness with ourselves we’ll soon realize how: “insignificant and unimportant having this stupidly portrayed perfect social media body really is.”
The letter continued: “While on this topic, delete any account that pops up on your news feeds that gives you any sense of feeling shit about yourself. Friend or not. Be ruthless for your own well-being.
“Be grateful for each day you don’t have pain and even the days where you are unwell with man flu, a sore back or a sprained ankle, accept it is sh*t but be thankful it isn’t life threatening and will go away.”
“Whine less, people! .. And help each other more.
Give, give, give. It’s true you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more.
“Since I have been sick, I’ve met the most incredibly giving and kind people and be the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends and strangers; More than I could I ever give in return. I will never forget this and will be forever grateful to all of these people.”
“It’s a weird thing having money to spend at the end.. when you’re dying. It’s not a time you go out and buy material things that you usually would, like a new dress. It makes you think how silly it is that we think it is worth spending so much money on new clothes and ‘things’ in our lives.”
Holly had a wonderful idea, a great token to show your friends how much they mean to you: “Buy your friend something kind instead of another dress, beauty product or jewelry for that next wedding.
“1. No-one cares if you wear the same thing twice 2. It feels good. Take them out for a meal, or better yet, cook them a meal. Shout their coffee. Give/ buy them a plant, a massage or a candle and tell them you love them when you give it to them.”
Holly went on to advise: “Value other people’s time. Don’t keep them waiting because you are sh*t at being on time. Get ready earlier if you are one of those people and appreciate that your friends want to share their time with you, not sit by themselves, waiting on a mate. You will gain respect too!”
“This year, our family agreed to do no presents and despite the tree looking rather sad and empty (I nearly cracked Christmas Eve!), it was so nice because people didn’t have the pressure of shopping and the effort went into writing a nice card for each other.”
“Plus imagine my family trying to buy me a present knowing they would probably end up with it themselves.. strange! It might seem lame but those cards mean more to me than any impulse purchase could.”
“Mind you; it was also easier to do in our house because we had no little kiddies there. Anyway, moral of the story- presents are not needed for a meaningful Christmas. Moving on.”
The letter continued: “Use your money on experiences.. Or at least don’t miss out on experiences because you spent all your money on material shit.”
“Put in the effort to do that day trip to the beach you keep putting off. Dip your feet in the water and dig your toes in the sand. Wet your face with salt water. Get amongst nature.”
“Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn’t meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo.. enjoy the bloody moment, people! Stop trying to capture it for everyone else.”
“Random rhetorical question. Are those several hours you spend doing your hair and make up each day or to go out for one night really worth it? I’ve never understood this about females.”
“Get up early sometimes and listen to the birds while you watch the beautiful colors the sun makes as it rises.”
“Listen to music.. Really listen. Music is therapy. Old is best.”
To many, what Holly suggests might seem small and insignificant. But when you’re losing your ability to do these things, dipping your toes into the sand or feeling the waves lap at your ankles, that’s all you wish you could do.”
She goes on to say: “Cuddle your dog. Far out, I will miss that. Talk to your friends. Put down your phone. Are they doing okay?”
“Travel if it’s your desire, don’t if it’s not. Work to live, don’t live to work. Seriously, do what makes your heart feel happy.”
“Eat the cake. Zero guilt. Say no to things you really don’t want to do.”
“Don’t feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life.. you might want a mediocre life and that is so okay.”
“Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have.”
What wise words from someone so young; But I think what Holly says here is most important: “Also, remember if something is making you miserable, you do have the power to change it – in work or love or whatever it may be.
“Have the guts to change. You don’t know how much time you’ve got on this Earth so don’t waste it being miserable. I know that is said all the time but it couldn’t be more true.”
Holly concluded: “Anyway, that’s just this one young gals life advice. Take it or leave it, I don’t mind!”
“Oh, and one last thing, if you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood. It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. I feel like it’s something that is so overlooked considering every donation can save three lives! That is a massive impact each person can have and the process really is so simple.”
“Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year – a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend it here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life.
..’Til we meet again.
We can learn so much from Holly’s words. Rest in peace, Holly!