Columnist Bernice Ross is inspired by the story of Michael Combs, the author of “Our Last Christmas Wish.” The book is a reminder to not take a single day for granted and to love people around you.

I just finished reading Our Last Christmas Wish, a novel by Michael Combs. This powerful book is a reminder to not take a single day for granted and to love those who are around you, whether they are family, friends or even strangers. 

The central character Chris Robertson is a larger-than-life-character who lives life full out. His day-long July 4th celebrations are legendary, drawing family, friends, neighbors and strangers from all over. 

For Chris, the Fourth of July, “wrapped everything life has to offer into a series of events and traditions that he kept every year like a sacred religion.” 

After a day packed with fun, laughter and gorging on favorite foods, Chris capped off the evening with a 20-minute “wall of smoke and sparklers” followed with fireworks and ice cold watermelon for everyone. 

When Chris is diagnosed with cancer, he embarks on a deeper journey of creating love and hope for those around him. 

I never want anyone to feel sorry for me. I only want them to join me in living life with passion and purpose as if there is no tomorrow. 

As Chris battles his cancer, he realizes that this next Christmas may be his last. He asks each member of his family to come up with their “last Christmas wish” where they will have a full day devoted to having their wish fulfilled. 

Chris’ little grandson asks for “a present every day” between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Chris comes to realize that it’s not really about the presents — it’s about this child’s need to be noticed and to feel special. 

Chris’ daughter Tara recalls the wonderful lunch she had with her dad when she was 13. She wants to return to the same restaurant to enjoy a special father-daughter lunch and to create a new set of cherished memories. 

Chris’ son Tim asks his dad to build something for Tim’s yard and to help him decorate for the holidays. Tim tells Chris:

“My wish was selfish. For years, I’ve wanted something you made for me, and now I’ll have it. You have a special gift for making your house a home for everyone. Not the feeling we have when we’re here — that’s natural — but the feeling that comes over even strangers who drive past. You instill a piece of your heart in all you do. It’s incomparable to anything I’ve experienced. Show me how to make people feel, not just by being close to me but by holding or touching something I touched.”

Here are five takeaways to help you start living your life more fully right now. 

  • Only spend time with those who love you for who you are and encourage you to pursue your greatest potential.
  • The meaning of life reveals itself when we give from our hearts and strive to live with no regrets. In stark contrast, the mystery of life eludes those who only seek to gain.
  • Be mindful of your spoken words. To say “I am sick” or “I am broke” is to accept it in your life. To say “I am healthy” or “I am loved” sets you free. 
  • The most important thing you will ever have in life is your relationships. Nothing on earth compares to looking someone in the eyes and telling them how much they mean to you. 
  • In the face of death, you will recount your greatest regrets. Make it your life’s mission to say and do what you need to do. 

Although Chris is a remarkable character, Michael Combs, the author of Our Last Christmas Wish, has an even more astonishing story. 

In 2003, Combs died twice in three days. Due to the lack of oxygen, he lost all his memory. During his two-year recovery, he had to learn everything all over again including learning to walk and feed himself.

What’s truly incredible is what he has accomplished even as he battles cancer and constant, excruciating pain. Defying all odds, Combs became a prolific fine artist, published multiple books, and also became a symphonic composer. 

The most important thing you will ever have in life is your relationships. Nothing on earth compares to looking someone in the eyes and telling them how much they mean to you.

To escape his pain, he would often dream of flying, of “climbing over the clouds and soaring over beautiful landscapes, weightless and free.” Combs did achieve his dream of becoming a pilot. This is an excerpt from his book:

With his renewed purpose in life, Michael set out to inspire 20 million people with the message that, “It’s never too late to follow your dreams.” In 2010, he realized his own dream through his project, “The Flight of the Human Spirit,” smashing his goals and reaching 30 million people when he flew a REMOS Light Sport aircraft on a 50,000-journey to all 50 states. In the process, he set six world records and earned an esteemed spot in aviation history. 

When Combs reached Oahu, Hawaii, he found himself performing alongside the Blue Angels, the Red Bull Stunt plane, and Jacquie B Airshows, one of the few female aerobatic pilots. 

No matter what you are facing, live your life without regrets and never give up on your dreams. 

Happy Holidays!

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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