Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Life is about the endless, endless lessons. Sometimes they are when you expect it, but many times the lessons are when you least expect it. Sometimes the lesson is accompanied by joy, but many times the lesson comes with sorrow.
You can't escape the lessons.
You can't stop the lessons.
You just keep learning.
The past few years have been a lesson to me in living by watching people I love die. I know, I know, we all THINK that we GET IT. Life is short. Live your best life, however else you want to say it. Blah. Blah. Blah.
But there's a big difference between hearing or seeing and really feeling a thing. My father has been gone not quite two years now. It was painful, yet at the same time, so beautiful. The last conversation we ever had, the two of us on a bench at an outlet mall, on a warm summer afternoon, will stay with me forever. And I don't say this to depress you; rather, to have you understand that it is real. When someone says, "you never know if you'll get another chance to make it right, to tell someone you love them, to forgive, or to laugh with someone," it is the absolute truth.
My mother has been through some difficult physical issues, but is doing so much better. Despite what I really wanted to do, which was lay around the house on Sunday, I drove an hour and a half to visit her. She's staying in assistive living for the time being. The length of the time being is yet to be known.
I sat with her in the dining room at her table with two other ladies. And I looked around that room with the real knowledge that for many of us, that's where we'll end up. If we are lucky enough. And what does that mean to me?
Time is finite. Time waits for no one. Time respects no ones plans. Time continues.
Time will be gone before we know it if we don't pay attention.
The important thing is to remember this. Do I want to be the woman at the table looking back at her life and seeing only the regret of things not done? Of plans made but not realized? Of words not spoken? Bitter, angry, or even sad? Or do I want to be the woman at the table who feels a sense of satisfaction for a life well lived?
In recent years, I have decided to embrace and love who I am and what I look like. I am strong. I am tall. I am healthy. I have huge calves and big hips. I have beautiful hair and really, really bad eyesight. When I was 25, I didn't appreciate how absolutely fabulous my body was. I thought that I was fat. And that was nearly 50 pounds ago.
What in the hell was I thinking?
I'm sure any of the people where my mother now resides would gladly, gladly trade places with me. Almost every last one of the people there used a walker or a cane. I just want to stay active and stay strong. But here's the lesson: there's no guarantee that it will last. That I won't end up with a terminal disease or a heart attack or any other thing that can attack the body.
I appreciate where I am at this moment and celebrate it.
Each of us has a vision of what that life well-lived looks like, but how many people really live the life well lived? Think about someone in your own life who you feel did just that. How did they do it? What did it look like?
It doesn't mean that we each have to go out and scale a mountain, or compose a symphony or become elected to Congress. It's so individual, and yet so precious and so special. Our dreams are our own.
It's near the end of the day right now. I have to ask myself if this was a good day, despite anything that happened. I don't get this day again. It's not coming back around for me to re-live and to change "for the better."
Tomorrow is a new day. A new opportunity. A new lesson awaits.