What does it mean to live each day as if it may be your last? As a hospice and palliative care nurse, I am all too aware how physical death creeps up, often unexpectedly. In addition, how can I as a hospice nurse encourage my patients to live each remaining day as if it were their last? How do we define “living each day?” What does that entail or look like? I realize I can only define that for my own life and that perhaps in doing so I can gain insight into how to lead others into their discovery of living each day as the last. So here goes. To determine if I have fully lived the day as if it were my last, I ask myself three questions. First, “Have I expressed love today?” Have I let someone in my life know how much I care for them? It can be expressed in so many ways. Sending a care package to the child away at college, calling the friend whom I haven’t seen in over a year but miss so very much, gently kissing the elderly woman on the forehead as I leave her home after a visit, bringing a cup of specialty coffee to the co-worker who has provided assistance. Second, “Have I recognized the beauty around me?” This does not necessarily mean physical beauty. Yes, I love the vibrant colors of a sunset after a rain or the change in the color of leaves in autumn. But is there beauty on the cloudy/rainy day as well? Yes… I have seen it in the patient with cancer whose physical body is ravaged by the disease. I see a beautiful generosity, kindness and gentleness. I’ve seen beauty in the smile of a baby as Grandma makes all sorts of silly faces. I’ve seen it in the tears of a mother saying goodbye to her child as she places him in the arms of the staff from the mortuary. Lastly, “What was the purpose of the day?” In other words, “Did I accomplish something today?” For me, purpose and accomplishment is not always measured by the number of visits made, phone calls answered or letters mailed. Perhaps my purpose for the day was to make the cashier in Walmart laugh at the end of a long/hard day. Perhaps my purpose was to listen to a family member recall the life history of a patient as part of the grieving process. Perhaps my purpose was simply to remind my 21 year old daughter that being grown up is not all it is cracked up to be. So how will I live each day as if it is my last? When I wake up I greet the day with…Let me show love, let me see beauty and let me know purpose.