Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Memento mori

It’s so easy to lose perspective, to stop focusing on what’s really important in life, and get distracted into letting minor irritants affect my mood and upset my whole day. I’ve been doing too much of that lately: swatting at work annoyances for both DP and me buzzing around like mosquitoes; anticipating the transition from the school schedule to the summer-activity schedule (and the logistics of managing it with a single car); drudging through the constant march to keep the house functioning smoothly and maybe achieve something that makes living in it a little nicer.

Yesterday, after much petty strife, I achieved a small domestic triumph: I finally got a set of patio furniture I’ve been dreaming of and plotting to acquire: reasonably priced, attractive, simple, and with chairs you can move without pulling a muscle (a pet peeve of mine). With the help of my good friend R. and her roomy minivan, we had it purchased, home, and set up by late morning, and enjoyed a lovely lunch al fresco. As we relaxed and digested, I said to DP, “See, this is what it’s all about—why we put up with all the nonsense we’ve been fretting about this week. It’s so we can enjoy this.” It was, cliché though it sounds, an idyllic early-summer afternoon: DP and Miss B played catch in the backyard; I transplanted my herb garden; my friend T. and her daughter came over for a walk in town and a lemonade at the soda fountain. I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

It was all the more shocking to have it end with news coverage of the tornado devastation in Joplin, Missouri, hard on the heels of a phone call from New England to tell us of the sudden and accidental death of one of DP’s younger cousins. Surreal and terrifying to think that, only a few hours down the road from where we were enjoying blue skies and sun, a whole community could be destroyed; and that someone else’s husband, father, brother, son could be taken away with no warning in the middle of a Sunday afternoon.

For those of us who stand, unscathed, to see another day dawn, these are sharp reminders not to take any aspect of life for granted. Anything and anyone we love can be taken away from us at any time. That’s what the people who were predicting Judgment Day for this past Saturday got wrong: the world ends every day for someone. And for me, the only response to that is to be as mindful as I can of my good fortune, and to cherish whatever time I am given with the people I love.

RIP RCB, 8.12.76 - 5.22.11


Mark Scarbrough said... Best Blogger Tips

You have to live with your eyes wide open. And good deck furniture.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Words of wisdom, Mark. But then I wouldn't expect anything else from you.

Country-Fried Mama said... Best Blogger Tips

I completely relate to this. We picked our heads up four weeks ago after the Alabama tornadoes and looked around at our completely untouched lives. The devastation was so close and so widespread. I think we had survivors' guilt.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

I can only imagine, CFM - we felt like we dodged a bullet, and Joplin is 3-4 hours down the road. You had a much narrower escape.

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