‘I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser’.
These words were posted on Facebook by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, upon concluding the Shloshim (thirty days of mourning) for her husband Dave Goldberg. Dave was the CEO of SurveyMonkey, a successful Silicon Valley Startup until his tragic and sudden passing. Doing his daily routine on his treadmill, Dave suddenly fell and died at the prime of his life, creating a huge hole in the lives of his devoted wife and loving children.
I was deeply touched by Sheryl’s words, not only because of what they teach us about death but, more importantly, what they teach us about life.
Now hopelessly bereft of her husband’s love, if Sheryl could have sensed her husband’s mortality every day of her life, what would have their relationship have looked like? How would our marriages and relationships change if we lived each and every day as though it were our last?
Though we don’t live under tyrannical rule, Jews declare twice daily their readiness to die for G-d in the Shema prayer: ‘and you shall love G-d, your G-d….with all your soul’! This bold statement serves as a reminder even more potent in peacetime than in wartime. It’s the simple recognition that we are ultimately willing to actually die for our Creator that motivates us to live today as if it were our last. A simple hamotzi blessing, an aliyah, coins in a tzedaka box, observing a Shabbos; are all suddenly infused with new vigor and passion, the instant we recall that this just might be our last mitzvah!
Indeed, this is exactly the reason why we say the Shema Yisrael prayer twice daily. Not so much that G-d remember our devotion, but more importantly, that we remember our devotion to Him! If this is true of our relationship with our Creator, it is true of relationships with our loved ones too.
Imagine we did the same with the one person we love the most. By daily declaring our commitment to them, professing our willingness to leave no stone unturned to help them when in danger, we would quickly learn to value and appreciate the good times that we experience each day, and yet so easily dismiss. If we were to live each day like it were our last, our love would know no limits!
Despite being unable to complete college, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave the commencement speech at Stanford University in June 2005. He publicly spoke about his recent diagnosis with pancreatic cancer and how the doctors instructed him to go home and ‘prepare to die’. But Steve refused to do so. Instead he went home and realized that if he didn’t live every day like it was his last, he had little chance of changing the world. Ironically, it was his imminent death that motivated Steve Jobs to transform the way the world communicates and is entertained, the way the world lives.
Facebook’s COO left us with some very wise words this week. Let’s allow them sink in and enhance how we love our close friends and our Creator.