Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Be Thankful

I just went to visit my childhood best friend's mom. Today is her birthday. I spent about an hour with her, coaxing her into having a little something to eat. It's not easy anymore, as she's recently had a stroke so all her food is - in addition to being old-people gross anyway - mixed with gelatin. Yuck! I had to laugh when she managed to pull together a pretty convincing scowl, despite the paralysis in her face, so that I knew not to keep trying to push the pea-mush that was substituting for real food on her plate. It'd be easy to look at her situation and think 'This is awful, I'm so glad it's not me or my mom.'

I suppose that'd be one form of thanks, right?

But instead, I was grateful because as soon as she saw me there was no mistaking the delight in her eyes. The days since I went bounding into her house, sticky and sweaty from play have flown by in a flash. So I was relieved and glad that she took my hand and squeezed it, as best she could, to let me know she was so happy to see me. I'm grateful that she smiled at the flowers I brought and so, so overjoyed to have spent an hour with her, getting her to have even a few bites to keep up her strength and singing happy birthday to her so that she knew she was remembered and loved.

It's one thing, of course, to be loved by someone. I'm grateful, eternally, for all the love I receive from those close to me. But I have to say it's another thrill entirely to get someone else to see and appreciate the love you are giving them. It's especially meaningful when you know somone is at the end of their days, because we all know eventually the days run out.

I find this especially true today, not just because of this visit but because last night Tony stayed up late looking at old videos of our babies when they were brand, spankin' new. My beautiful Sara, rocking back and forth on those untried legs, doing everything she could to get into Lucy's 'big-girl' bed (toddler-sized, but huge to her). The ever-delicious Lucy in the background of every single video pleading, 'Can I see, Daddy?' and hamming it up for more face time. Sam, my earnest, eager Sam, bawling ferociously at the audacity of pause between placing him in the crib and handing him his bottle of milk. Those days have sprinted by, too soon. Of course, Sara is still trying everything she can to fit into Lucy's big-girl status, Lucy still chases Daddy around to dig into whatever he's doing, and Sam, embarrassingly, still bawls ferociously when we're out of milk. Some things, I'm told, never change.

And still, still, the days fly by.

So don't waste your days looking for something else. Be joyful in what you have today. You can stretch and grow and reach, but don't bemoan what is not in your grasp. Don't give time away to anger or regret better spent on thrill and song for what you already have. When it is your time to sit in that quiet chair waiting for a visit, those things won't matter. Don't place falseness or pretense in front of what is real and strong and true. You know what it is. Embrace your own flawed self with as much fervor as you do your most fantastic desires and share your truest self with those around you, even when you are weak and afraid. It is your honest love which is the most treasured by those who love you too. And be open and willing and reckless in giving your love - it is the one thing that always grows exponentially when invested. Everyone has a story to tell. Listen. Show fairness and reason and understanding. That too is rewarded and returned when shared.

And, above all, be thankful, as the days fly by.

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