Seven years ago a devastating tornado struck Joplin, Missouri. I read about a family of five who lived through that twister—the deadliest one that our country had seen in over sixty years. One of the children was separated from the rest of the family when the tornado set down.
I cannot begin to imagine the panic and fear that couple experienced wondering if their son was alive. In spite of the fact that the entire family survived, I’m sure that life has never been quite the same for them. The recognition of “what could have been lost” probably dances through their minds every day. I suppose that, for them, the “little things” became the really big things. Reading their story I cried, unable to imagine the pain of not knowing if my children or grandchildren were safe.
There are “life’s big moments”: weddings, graduations, holidays, special celebrations. Those tend to be days or events that we plan and spend a lot of energy (and sometimes money) on trying to “get it right”. Sadly, I’ve often heard people say that they invested so much time planning something that when they finally got there, they were so exhausted or worried that they didn’t enjoy it—the “moments of the experience” got lost in the planning of it.
In 2015, Larry and I took Lauren to Manhattan to celebrate her tenth birthday. We did the same with Ethan, just a year ago. Those trips were planned long before they were that age, but I can’t take credit for the idea. Two of my friends also give their grandchildren “experiences” (not things) for milestone birthdays. I love that!
On our way to New York, Larry, Lauren and I talked about what we would do and see. Lauren smiles a lot—she radiates joy in a way that I’ve rarely seen, and that makes her so much fun to be with. We checked into the hotel and began the adventure. One of our first stops was a restaurant where she was sprinkled with “pixy dust” and wore fairy wings while we ate lunch. Seeing her sheer joy at the simple things, not just the “big” things, makes me so happy. She danced in the water in Central Park and fell in love with a horse named “Harry” who took us on a carriage ride. Those pre-teen moments passed too quickly. I’m glad I made time for them.
We crammed a lot of living and laughter into those sixty hours. I wanted to hold onto each moment, just like I did when Sara and Erin were young, and just like I did with Ethan last year—”freeze-framing” each second; memorizing each time she reached for my hand or smiled or laughed or was in awe.
I love to hear my grandchildren tell me stories about school, about soccer, about friends, about life. I love questions—even the ones I can’t answer or have to figure out how to answer. It reminds me of when Sara and Erin were young.
Over four decades have passed since I became a mother, and those years seem to have flown by in a heartbeat. That fleeting time reminds me of the movie, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. It was a beautiful film, but also a bit sad—with stories of people entering the twilight years of their lives; facing the certainty of not much time left.
For all of us, time will be gone in a blink of an eye. There are no “do overs”. This is it—this moment in which I write to tell you my stories of hope and fear, of love and pain, of faith and falling down, and of laughter, peace, and joy—this is all that’s real because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
There are so many “things”, taking time away from being present. Too many of us have lost the joy of “life together” because it’s been replaced with possessions that keep us busy. But, spending time together talking, exploring, learning and laughing creates memories that build a life of love—a life filled with what truly matters.
As I write this, I think of how blessed I am to have had those adventures with my grandchildren. I think about how fragile and fleeting life is. I think about holding Lauren’s small hand in mine as we walked down the street. These are the moments that I hope stay etched in my mind forever.
I am so grateful.
I am so blessed to walk this life.
Thank You God for all I have. Thank You for the family I love so much, for the chance to experience life, and for the tears that spill down my cheeks, as I write this, because my heart is so filled up.
Making time for what truly matters. That’s really all we have, isn’t it?
©2018 Peace Full Home