A dear friend of mine died this week after about three years battling cancer.

He had surgery, chemotherapy and spent extensive amounts of time at a famous cancer hospital in Houston, Texas. Medically, he did everything he could possibly do to beat cancer. Physically, he gave everything he had to beat cancer. Spiritually and emotionally, he gave everything he could possibly give to beat cancer. He wanted to live but it didn't work out.

Fifty-four is a young age to die.

Paul Schmidt was a wonderful Christian man, pastor and loved by hundreds and probably thousands. When someone is so loved, lives such a good life and does much to help other people, it seems harshly unfair for his life to end so quickly.

Another pastor friend of mine was looking forward to retirement but after battling cancer for about three years my friend Bob died an early death as well. He was just 63.

My sister's daughter, Cindy, died at the age of 53. She fought type 1 diabetes almost her entire life. After a kidney transplant and years of medical treatments and hospital stays, she eventually wound up with cancer that overtook her young body.

Good people such as these are reminders of the brevity of life and that each day is a gift. Little children die, babies often never make it a day and young adult and middle-aged adults are taken from us in the prime of life.

None of us were guaranteed a hundred years of life when we were born. We hear about centenarians, and may even know some, but even in this day and time living to be a hundred is a far stretch.

People of faith think about a life beyond this life and teach about being ready for better days beyond the grave. The problem is that it's impossible to know exactly what is beyond the grave. While many believe death is the end of everything, even a few atheists hope there is something to look forward to.

If you are a Christian, you look to the Bible and the very small and few nuggets of information promised about the other side. Other religions point to other books and understandings about the afterlife.

One thing is for sure: death comes to all. Another thing for sure is going to church every Sunday and being an A-plus person with a deep sincere faith does not guarantee longevity.

My wife and I joke about a relative of ours who lived to be 95. He was a character. He wasn't a bad person. He was just a little ornery. I don't think that being ornery adds years to anybody's life but sometimes it does seem like it works out that way.

Although I take it back because a lady lives down the road from me and is 95 years young and she is almost like a saint to us. She lives clean, works hard and is just a good devout person of faith.

Life is short and we all say goodbye at least in this world. Young people, old people and all people leave life by disease, tragedy and sometimes simply old age.

My only point is we should make the best of today. Smell the roses. Hug people and do some good along the way. Every day is a gift and never a guarantee.

Glenn Mollette is an American syndicated columnist and author.

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