Portland, Maine – You know, in the dead of winter, here in Maine, leaving the house is often an exercise in emotional torture. It takes 30 to 45 minutes and the clock resets itself with every “I gotta pee!” or poopy diaper. And it usually ends in raised voices, deep breathing exercises, or tears.
You can imagine what goes through my mind when we finally leave the house and someone sees my boys and comes up to me and whispers, “Enjoy every second.”
Are you out of your mind? Do you have any idea what we just went through? Have you forgotten what it’s like to never pee by yourself? Have you blocked out what your mouth smelled like after a couple of days of not seeing a toothbrush? Don’t you remember what your hands looked like after changing a 2-year-old’s poop filled diaper when a temper tantrum strikes… in the middle of it? Do you mean enjoy those seconds, too?
Just last week, I was dressing the children for 16 degree weather in an effort to leave the house. It’s not like I was taking them to get a root canal. No, our destination was the children’s museum. Voices were raised. Deep breathing commenced. Everyone was near tears. And then my phone rang. I glanced quickly to see who was calling.
I stopped what I was doing. I looked at my phone again. I did NOT answer. Because I knew immediately. I can’t tell you why. I just felt it. I knew what was about to happen. I knew what was about to be said. I knew immediately that one of my dearest friends was dead.
Just nine years ago, we planned out the rest of our lives while on a girls’ weekend. We giggled about the possibilities. Would I become a mother? Would she take her equestrian dream to the Olympics? Would her sweet daughters follow in her footsteps? Could there eventually be a PhD in our midst? The world was full of possibilities. We were blissfully unaware that time was slipping away.
Grief is like walking in the ocean. A wave of sadness washes over you and then another and another. And it was during one of those waves that I finally understood what those enjoy-every-second people really mean. Have you ever looked at the people who say that? Not a single one of them is in their 20s. They are not in their 30s. It starts with the 40-somethings. But these words are mostly spoken by folks in their 50s, 60s and older. They have lived long enough to know. They get it. They already know what I just experienced: We’re not all going to make it to the finish line. Every moment we have here is a gift.
No, EVERY SECOND.
Even when you are encasing a screaming child into a snowsuit with the skill of an origami master. Even when you are covered in vomit, pee, poop, or who knows what. Even when you are sure you’ve had enough (and your kids feel the same way).
You are still here. And so are they.
So I’m whispering to you, “Enjoy every second of it.”
Because all of this is so fragile and so truly dear.