When I was a teenager, I heard a woman talking about her life. She was probably my current age (30 years old–I don’t believe in being mysterious about my age…), single, never married, without children. She said something that has had a profound influence on my life. She said this: “Life is now. It is not the next big thing that happens to you. It is this moment, and you should live it to the fullest.”
At that time, I was living with my parents, the last of nine children to grow up and move away. I had lived a small era of my life saddened by the truth of losing (in an immediate sense) the people I loved, one by one. That is how I “lost” my brothers and sisters–this one to college, this one to marriage, this one to this job or that. I spent a couple of melancholy teenage years wishing that I could stay a child, surrounded by the people who loved me and whom I loved. I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want anything to change. I wanted time to stand still…
I met Randy my senior year of high school. He was the only guy I ever loved. It took me a while to realize how much I cared for him–he kind of gets under your skin… And one day I am driving down the road, singing his songs, thinking about him… I felt crazy. I had never intended to fall in love with him. I never saw it coming. He is 14 years older than me, and the fear of living the latter part of my life without him could have easily kept me from allowing our relationship to unfold. Fear was there again–daring me to care about someone I could lose so easily, so surely… I married him and defied it.
When we were dating, there was a year or two when time could not move fast enough. The summer of trying to figure out if we were meant to be together, while I was taking a summer session biology course, wearing a splint in my mouth to try to keep my jaw in alignment so I could sleep at night. I wanted to get past those days and get onto my real life–getting married to someone who would always love me, whom I could always love. Getting past the not-knowing. I wanted my real life, as a woman and an wife to begin. I wanted time to fly…
Life really is so full of waiting. There is the waiting for babies to be born, and waiting to see what they will be like, what color the hair and eyes will be, the first sound of laughter… There is waiting for a good night’s sleep… And waiting for the day your children can buckle themselves into their own car seats.
Recently, I have been looking far into the future. After the passing of Randy’s Father, I have been freshly reminded of the brevity of life. How our bodies are such a temporary vehicle for the soul. Our life on earth is short. The bodies of those I love are so beautiful–my husband, my children, my dear friends and family. They are so temporarily here on this earth. I want to make the most of this life. I want to love and be loved. I want my life to touch others and be touched by their lives. I do not want to live in fear, wasting these precious years by fearing again how I will lose the ones I love. Every moment of this life is a gift. I want to live each one fully, not looking back in regret or wishing for the past or looking ahead in anticipation of the next big thing, whether good or bad.
This is the day. The day I woke early and read for a few minutes before the girls got up. This is the day I made breakfast–eggs and toast with coffee. The day I taught my son to eat cheerios and watched him laugh with pride as he pinched the small circle between his thumb and index finger. This is the day that I clipped coupons and bought groceries, heart-pounding… This is the day I watched a movie with my girls, and instead of getting up to clean the kitchen, I just stayed and cuddled with them. This is the day that I began teaching my daughter to sew, using the embroidery hoop my Grandma gave me. This is the day I talked to my sister on the phone. The day I didn’t shower. The day I listened (and am still listening) to my beautiful husband playing tunes on his whistle.
Life is hard and full of suffering. But we are still here. And we have now.