Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.

— Horace

If you live in the contiguous 48, you know few things are as exciting as freshly fallen snow. I remember as a 4-year-old making my way downstairs from our North Seattle home to fetch Dad the morning paper. Upon opening the door that early December day, I was surprised by the precious little tufts of white floating down to their final destination.

I immediately bolted back upstairs, tore into my sleeping sister’s room, and screamed at the top of my lungs that it was “SNOWING!” She, being tired of my pranks, decided I was calling wolf, rolled over, pulled her pillow over her head, and snarled, “Go away; you’re annoying.” In my glee, I continued trying to motivate her to rise, get dressed, and come see for herself. She continued to protest, concluding, “There’s no way it’s snowing. It’s way too warm, and it wasn’t snowing last night when we went to bed.” I enthusiastically replied, “Well, then I’m not sure exactly what it’s doing, but it’s falling from the sky and there’s lots of it…and it’s white!” She finally got up.

Perhaps I’m presumptuous in stating the entire Lower 48 feels the excitement of snow since those in Buffalo, Minneapolis, Cleveland or Denver, may not share my enthusiasm. That said, if you live in Seattle, snow is a BIG deal. If you’re skeptical, just turn on the local news—even the remote prospect of snow on the horizon would make you think Jesus himself had sent a press release on his eminent arrival.

When the fallen snow reaches a depth of one inch (or less), you can count on Jim Forman of KING 5 News to be perched at the base of Queen Anne Hill donned in parka, stocking cap and gloves, sensationalizing the event with his chirping quips, “The best advice is, IF you don’t have to go out…DON’T…Live from lower Queen Anne, I’m Jim Forman KING 5 News.” It’s a joke, but it does get viewers to watch and thus sells advertising.

When my kids, Riley and Emily, were 7 and 8 respectively, we received one of those wonderful winter storms. The conditions were perfect the night before, and one could see the dull gray sheet of cloud cover roll in from the west. Anyone with a Seattle heritage knew exactly what was in store. The temperatures were sub-freezing and not remotely affected by the warmth the cloud cover often presents. With the impending storm, the air filled with the excitement only kids can create at the prospect of playing in the snow while school is cancelled.

That night, I emailed my employees to inform them not to attempt to make their way to the office. Seattle comes to a complete standstill with even the slightest amount of white on its roads. With our laptops, we could function without physically being in our offices.

The next morning, we awoke to a blanket of pure delight—four to five inches of untracked velvety white scenery. The kids wolfed down their breakfasts while their mother struggled to pull coats, boots, hats and gloves over their excitement. The sense of urgency filled the room and expanded to every corner. Boom—they were out the door with shouts of joy and sleds in hand.

We were fortunate to live on a dead-end street with a short yet steep hill. It was the perfect run for kids their age since they didn’t have to walk too far or long and could still experience an amazingly fast ride. But it was steep. So even at a young age, a dozen treks in five inches of snow uphill with sled in tow was a meaningful workout.

My wife summoned me out the door that morning to share the experience of all that was good; family, snow, kids, dogs and the joy it all brings. Still in my pajamas, I stated I’d be “right” out—I needed to check email first to make sure nothing was on fire.

I found my way into my home office and proceeded to respond to several dozen emails that materialized overnight. About an hour into it, my wife appeared in the door with snow, sweat and a smile, to ask, “Are you coming? The kids are having a ball. You’re missing a great time.” I told her again I’d be “right out” and sunk my head into my screen to continue my email responses.

More time transpired, and once again, my wife popped her snow-clad self in the door. This time, she was a bit more agitated and imploring that I needed to get out from behind my computer, get dressed and get outside. Some more time transpired before I found my way to sifting through the closet of snow clothes.

I appeared on the scene to find exhausted, wet, soaked kids with red rosy cheeks. They were done, and the snow that had been so pristine had taken on a different sheen. Rain had begun and the freshness of the early morning had melted into the afternoon.

As the kids made their way to the house to warm themselves with cocoa, my wife looked over her shoulder at me and quietly said, “You missed it.” I stood there by myself with the kids'  sleds in hand while rain dripped off the end of my nose.

It brings me great sadness on many fronts to recount this moment. To chronicle it for posterity’s sake only serves to deepen the crevasse I feel in my heart. I champion myself as someone who spends little time contemplating the past, because it’s just a huge waste of energy when there’s nothing you can do to change it. Regrets, I have few. Yet this memory haunts me more than I care to admit. I recall telling myself, “We’ll do it later; it’ll happen then.” Unfortunately, the next year the kids were older, and it didn’t snow. I had missed it.

If you were to offer me a million dollars to recant what was so important to spend the morning sitting in front of my computer in lieu of sledding with my kids, I’d come up empty. Blank. I can’t remember the contents of a single of those emails. Yet I can recount the sights, smells, and excitement of that snowy day with such clarity it could have happened today. What does that say? Sitting in your home office pounding out meaningless emails, or sledding with your kids during a once in a lifetime moment—which matters more?

Had I had cancer that glorious day with the kids running around my feet, without question, I would have been with them the entire time. No questions asked. No emails returned. No excuses given or expected.

Are you missing it?

If you are, please take a moment and live your life as if you have cancer.

Randy Broad


Randall Broad is a lung cancer survivor and author of,

"It's an Extraordinary Life"