When I found out on Labor Day that my Aunt Carolyn only had a few hours to live, at first I wasn’t sure what to think or how to process that information.

A mixture of sadness, confusion and hurt settled in my stomach. How could it be that just a few weeks ago I was at my cousin’s birthday cookout joking around with her and now she was gone?

While it still hasn’t registered all the way, I have had some more time to think about and realize that all of us have to deal with losses like this in life.

Farmers know this more than anybody, especially those with livestock. They deal with losing animals on a regular basis and see the cycle of life up close and personal. Kind of like how a doctor or nurse might see it, only with animals.

I grew up raising my goats on a friend’s farm. Her mother ran the sheep barn by herself. She dealt with losses every month and handled them so well.

I always hoped I’d be able to see life the way a farmer sees life. The growth, the nurturing, the harvest. All cycles that must come to pass in good times and hard times.

It’s so important to treasure every single day we’re given. Not to live in fear or paranoia, but to live big and make the most of the hand we’re dealt.

When I think about how fleeting life is, how time is not guaranteed, it makes me even more thankful for the family, friends and loved ones that surround me today.

Memories of my aunt always will stay close to my heart. When I was little, after church she would play with me and a toy frog that I carried with me everywhere. She had this full, heartwarming laugh and a sassy side that always put a smile on my face.

She always was involved with the wedding planning process, wanting to know how everything was going and always asking to help out. She was even going to be in charge of manning the dessert table at the wedding.

Even though she can’t be there, I know she is with me in spirit.

Experiences like this help me realize that family is a priority in life. No matter how much work there is to do, there always is time to be with loved ones.