Saturday, August 21, 2010

Carpe diem

Since I got back from Boston, two good friends of mine have lost close family members. One was dreaded, coming at the end of a long battle with cancer. One was brutal and unexpected, coming out of the darkness on a Texas highway. Neither of those lost had done anything like their full share of living: they were 48 and 29. Both leave behind grieving children, spouses, extended family, and friends.



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.

4 comments:

Sparkly Em said... Best Blogger Tips

Beautiful as ever Nancy.

I made a decision, a while ago, that life was too short for dull underwear. It sounds flippant, but at least when i go, i know the undertaker will be impressed.

I live each day for me, and for my mum. She never had the chance to do what i am doing, as she never made it this far. I tell the kids every day i love them, and make sure all my friends know it too.

So, i know i dont see you very often, and we dont chat as much as we could, or share cakes like we used to, but i am really glad that you are in my life.
Thank you.

xx

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Em! For getting it, and for being you. xo

figjamandlimecordial.com said... Best Blogger Tips

I left a comment here several days ago - did you get it, Nancy? Thank you for this thoughtful post..

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

No, I didn't - that's odd. Blogger must have eaten it. Thanks for letting me know.

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