Saturday, August 21, 2010
Even when we lose the teenage belief in our own immortality, I think most of us in the middle of life, with children, jobs, chores, family concerns, and social lives to absorb (and sometimes harass) us, think of death as something that is still comfortably far off in the distance. Crossing a milestone birthday probably brings up a few disquieting thoughts about mortality, but there isn’t really time to dwell on them, with everything else that’s going on. We try to take care of ourselves—eat whole grains, wear our seatbelts—and get on with whatever is next on the To Do list. We toss out phrases like “I could have died of embarrassment” or “I’m dying to see that movie” without thinking about what that really means.
But these two deaths, coming so close together, give me pause. Because we really don’t know what’s coming, or how long we’ve got. And while this may seem like a morbid train of thought, what this realization reminds me to do is to live in the present: to relish, as much as possible, every moment and sensation of being alive. Every day with my daughter (even the ones where she’s tired and cranky). Every conversation with my husband (even the ones that make me throw up my hands in frustration). Every email in my inbox (okay, maybe not every email; but definitely the ones from my sisters and friends). And every mouthful of food.
I went to visit one of my bereaved friends yesterday, bearing a plate of blueberry-corn muffins warm from the oven. We sat down with her husband and parents, and had coffee and muffins while they reminisced about family memories and especially the son and grandson they had lost. When I got home, I made myself a farmers’ market tomato salad and ate it with some good bread and better cheese. Then I went and picked Miss B up from school. We walked home holding hands and chatting about her day, to the muffin I had saved for her waiting on the kitchen counter.
Carpe diem. Even the most ordinary days are full of moments and mouthfuls to savor.