A week ago, my life was ordinary. I had a plan...and I worked the plan. Get something done, add something new to the list. Rest when possible and push through when necessary. Don't worry about it...just do it. Accept. Breathe. Do.
And then after that...get up and do it all again.
There were good times and some not so good times...but for the most part, there has always been something to look forward to. Maybe it was just a pretty sunrise or the end of a workday...but something. There was also something to be lived through or survived like too much month and not enough money or some stage of the kids' lives that I thought would never end.
I suppose that I never really thought that this was unusual...I've accepted that at 48...there are a lot of things that I've reconciled myself to living without or living with. That's just life, right? Although in all honesty...sometimes I do find my life to be some bizarre mix of "easy to predict" with a heavy scoop of "waiting for the other shoe to drop" with a smattering of "yay!" and "OMG!"
As they say...it is what it is.
My life has been so ordinary, in fact, that I've actually found it helpful to just let some dreams go. I've realized that some things are not my path no matter how interesting I find them or how much I'd like to believe otherwise. There's nothing unhealthy about packing them away...nor am I doing this with all of them. But I'm older now...and some of them no longer make sense. After all, some dreams actually do have an expiration date.
Like being a member of the Partridge Family. Or having four children.
Some of them have actually been lived through my children and I'm over it now. Jill was a cheerleader and she actually mastered a back handspring...something I didn't have the guts (or the arm strength) to do. Brian is taking Calculus...something that I always thought would be impressive for me to brave...even if I honestly barely made it through Algebra II.
And college algebra...and statistics...
So, a week ago, I was just living my life the way I always do...waiting for the day somewhere in the future when my children graduate from college and are somewhat self-sufficient. I've put the brakes on a lot of things just waiting for this empty nest thing to happen with little regard for what I know to be true. Something that was driven home a week ago.
We aren't promised tomorrow. All that we have is right now.
I've put off so many things in my life. Travel. Losing weight for health reasons. Telling certain people how special they are...and letting other relationships go. I've fretted over so much and enjoyed so little...relatively speaking. This really has to stop.
Last week, storms blew through Tuscaloosa, Alabama about a mile from where one of the things I can actually take to heaven with me was waiting it out. She went to her bathroom and sat there because I told her that's where she'd be safest. Honestly, though, I couldn't even remember if that advice was right. I prayed from the parking lot of the post office on the East Boulevard and tried to calm my soul. Yes, I really was doing something prior to sitting there that seemed mighty important at the time...but in retrospect was so incredibly unimportant in the grand scheme of things.
When the dust settled...I was able to find out that my girl was safe. No damage at all.
A friend and sorority sister of hers was not as fortunate. It breaks my heart to think of how helpless her parents were miles away in Texas...and then to get to Alabama hoping against hope...only to have that hope shattered. Her funeral was yesterday.
The town Jill has called home for the past three years doesn't even look the same...and won't for years we're told. While there are volunteers pouring in and the immediate needs are being met...there is a lot of work left to do. In a world where disasters come around far more frequently than we'd like...it is possible that something else will come along to grab the nation's attention. Some other disaster that will displace other people and take lives, property, and memories. Sad, but true.
While we were reeling from the news of this...we got another call from a family member with horrible news. We lost a relative who was a wonderful husband and new father. Within a week of realizing that there was a health issue...he is gone. Our family is still trying to understand this.
The events of last week loudly spoke four words to me..."this is a call..." A wake-up call. A point in time where I quit putting off what I can possibly squeeze in because it matters to me...and where I stop doing those things that no longer do. Life is too short...and precious...to live any other way.
I don't know what will happen tomorrow. I can plan...and I can hope. In fact, it is biblical to try to be prudent...but we cannot prepare for every eventuality in this life. Yes, I can even nurture a dream or two. There's nothing wrong with that. And I really should do my best to take care of myself so that I have a better chance of seeing those dreams come true...or at least be in better health to enjoy life as much as possible should I live a full life.
But I have to remember...that I am not promised tomorrow.
I hope that I have not depressed you...but have given you something to think about. I don't want you to feel hopeless or like you have a weight around your neck or a stone in your stomach. I just want to encourage you to really examine your life. If something needs to change...change it. Now. Quit waiting for the perfect opportunity. You want to do something for someone? Do it. Now. Don't hesitate or assume that you have all the time in the world. Hopefully you do. But you just never know.
If you do make changes and find yourself regretting the wasted time you spent with your ladder on the wrong wall...don't beat yourself up over it. Look forward...and only steal a glance backwards to celebrate how far you've come or out of respect for those who brought you from point A to point B. Other than that...try to simply be glad and appreciative for today. And about that time you regret losing? Know that the Lord will return the time that the locusts have eaten.
Last week reminded me that some things can change on a dime. Life is boisterous and wonderful and amazing...but it is also fragile and unpredictable and painful. Sometimes all at the same time. It also reminded me that sometimes you can find yourself blessed beyond measure.
Beyond measure. That means...more than you can imagine and certainly more than you know you deserve.
Last week...I saw both. Blessings and pain. Relieved...and grieved. But I also realized that I had the gift of a wake-up call to remind me to quit waiting for everything to be perfect in my life...or even to be good. I just need to live every day to the fullest.
To stay in the moment...and hope for the best...