I’m taking a break from the silly today because I have something I want to say…something that’s been on my mind the last couple of days. And since this is my little space, who better than me to say (or type) it?
So this has been an odd week, to say the least. Odd in the way that winter without cold (or snow—I’m still resentful) is odd. Odd in the way that early April feels like late July and I already have a sunburn. Odd in a way that makes you wonder, “What in the world is happening? and “When will it stop?” To sum things up, a lot of people I know have lost a lot of people this week. And everyone involved is still relatively young. And since my circle of friends is still busy having and raising children, all this loss has caught a lot of people off guard. Because things like this aren’t supposed to happen yet. Things like this happen later in life. But happen, they have…with a force. And so in the course of a single week:
My cousin lost her father—a man I remember fondly, a man that was my uncle for a whole lot of years.
Three friends lost their husbands.
A young neighbor lost his dad.
My husband lost his aunt.
A dear friend lost a dear friend.
And all these people are separate.
And, with the exception of one, none of them were expected.
And while trying to comprehend all this loss, I keep asking myself a question. Can it ever really be? Expected, that is? We’re given one life, with no promises of how long ours is going to last. Even if illness finds us and gives us a warning, can we ever be truly prepared?
I’m not talking spiritually prepared, because the answer to that is a resounding yes.
I’m talking mentally prepared. Physically prepared. An absolute knowing that we swam furiously in the vast river that life had to offer us, and that even after we climbed out…that we hung around the water’s edge and splashed around some more, determined to grasp every drop until it was time to walk away.
And I think the answer, for almost all of us, is no.
Because busyness tends to take over. Because errands somehow multiply and need to be attended. Because daily routine has a way of kicking in automatically. And because time…well, it always seems like it will be there tomorrow.
But here’s the truth: While responsibilities are important, life is moving fast. Kids are growing at lightning speed. New school years are passing more quickly than the last. In fact, the more my daily clock spins, the sooner I find myself facing yet another bedtime. And at the end of each day I wind up thinking, “Today flew by. How are we already here again?”
And sometimes it takes a wake-up call for me to slow down long enough to realize it.
I remember when I was young—maybe fifteen—my grandmother told me something that struck me as sorta funny. She said, “Most days I feel like I’m thirty, but then I go look in the mirror and see a wrinkled old woman staring back at me.” She was probably seventy at the time. And I giggled, thinking that was a silly thing for someone her age to say, because of course old people should feel old. But now I see that she was right (though I am nowhere near seventy, just to clarify). When I turned twenty-five, I felt more like fifteen. When I turned thirty, I felt twenty. And when I turned…older than thirty…I finally felt twenty-five (and I’m holding there…maybe for forever).
Because that’s the way life works. It moves faster than we can keep up. It flashes in a blur. I notice this every time I try to turn around and glimpse a little of the past—in photographs that hold faces of people no longer with me, in videos that capture voices I haven’t heard in years. In my children’s faces that change markedly with every Christmas card.
So I think for most of us…especially for me…we need to give life a better shot. Everything it deserves. Because one day, for every single one of us, our time will run out.
I don’t say this to depress. Totally the opposite. I say it to encourage—maybe myself more than anyone. I say it to point out that for anyone living and breathing and moving and feeling… we need to learn to throw ourselves into life. We need to live hard. Play hard. Hug hard. Kiss hard. Cry hard. Work hard. Rest hard. Sing hard. Laugh hard. Love hard.
We need to find something we love to do, and do it with everything we have. Be it teaching or inventing or building or writing or anything else I haven’t thought of. Because no one is too young, or too old, to get started. If you’re alive, you’ve got something to say…and something to give…and someone out there who is waiting to receive it. I believe it’s what God wants from all of us. I believe that’s what He’s up there waiting for us to do.
And in my opinion, the Creator of life and breath and love and sorrow and everything in between…
Deserves that much.