Nothing makes you appreciate life more than death.

I was still reeling from the loss of my dad when one of my closest friends passed away.

I still struggle—do I ever struggle—and some days, I wonder how my life has become an endless cycle of picking up toys and changing diapers and driving kids to practice.

But, when my youngest sons are streaking through the yard with the biggest smiles on their faces, or my oldest, now a teenager, leans his head on my shoulder, I just want to breathe in these fleeting moments and memorize every part of them.

My dad, a 6-foot-3-inch gentle giant who loved the outdoors and building things and working on classic cars and most of all, fiercely loved his family, is now ashes and memories. He’s also the smile I see on my boys’ faces and their kindhearted nature. I see him when I look in the mirror, too—the wavy hair I hated when I was growing up is something I embrace now because that’s what makes me part of him. I think of him when I’m struggling and I can hear his words of encouragement in my head.

He’s not here anymore, yet he’s everywhere.

And my friend, a beautiful, bombshell blonde (or brunette or redhead if she felt like switching it up!) with two equally beautiful little boys and her whole life ahead of her is gone now, too. I miss her laugh the most, and those sayings that were oh-so-her (that I’ve unknowingly adopted after the many conversations we shared). She would show up at my door with a bowl of homemade soup if I was under the weather and stand up for me in any situation. She was fire—easily one of the most opinionated, toughest (on the surface) people I’ve known—who had a soft and nurturing side that those closest to her knew well.

There are some people who impact us so greatly, they change the trajectory of our lives—and I’m proud to say these two incredible people did that for me. I truly believe I’m a better mother, wife, friend, and person for knowing them. They’ve inspired me to carry on their best and appreciate every moment this life has to offer because one day my time will be up, too.

And I hope when it is, I will pass down some of the good my loved ones instilled in me, along with a lifetime’s worth of memories with those I’ve left behind.

So jump in that water. Eat that cake. Say yes to what makes you happy, and no to those obligations that don’t.

Put down what you’re doing when your kids want to play and let that laundry pile up.

Because in the end, all that matters is the memories you made and the people you impacted. Life surely is precious, and every moment you have is one that someone else will not.

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At the End of Your Life, This is What Will Matter to Your Children

Trina Rehberg Boyko

Trina Rehberg Boyko is a writer in Winnipeg, MB. She runs a website for local moms called Prairie Mom Life, which features articles, events and an online community for moms to lean on and learn from each other.