I sat down at my computer today with the full intention of writing something funny. Something witty and clever and far, far, far away from the emotional and slightly sad tone my blog has taken as of late. I starting typing a blog about losses and gains – about funny things that you gain and lose after having a baby. Inconsequential things… like your mind. However, the more I started thinking about losses, the more I started thinking about loss. And, as so often happens when I am writing these blogs, my fingers began to take me somewhere that I didn’t know I wanted to go. My husband says that he learns so much about me by reading my blog, and I have to say that in writing it, I learn so much about myself. So screw funny. It’s over-rated anyway. (But stay tuned next week for the revival of my usual biting wit and thinly veiled sarcasm. Probably.)
I have had loss on my mind lately. Last weekend my husband found out that one of his good friends’ wives passed away. It was cancer. It was quick. It was devastating. I personally had only met her once as they live in London, but she was a beautiful and kind woman. She was also a wonderful mother to her two young children. Her youngest is the same age as my daughter. When we heard the news over the weekend, my heart ached for my husband’s friend who was left without a wife and especially for those two young girls who were left without a mother. But I also ached for this young, vibrant mother who will not get the chance to see her children grow up.
As I said before, I didn’t know her very well. But in the short time we spent together, I was struck by how much she reminded me of me. She was about my age. She loved her family. She loved to have fun. She loved to laugh. She loved life. We were both pregnant when we met, although she already had one daughter. She was wise and experienced and she graciously answered all of my (many, many) questions about babies and about motherhood. Since then, I expect that the past year-and-a-half since her daughter was born was a lot like mine: sleepless nights, blissful moments, more laughter than she ever thought possible. I am sure that she spent many hours marveling at the perfection of her daughter’s face and imagining the possibilities of her daughter’s future, much the way that I have.
Then she woke up one day, just like any other day, but on this day she had a headache. She woke up with plans and hopes and dreams, just like any other day, but she didn’t know that this particular day would be her last. She didn’t know that she would never get to see her children grow up, get married, or have children of their own. She didn’t know that she would never again get to marvel at the beauty of her daughter’s face or get the chance to discover who her daughters will become.
She reminded me a lot of me, and I think that’s why I felt the loss so greatly, even though I barely knew her. If it could happen to someone like her, then it could certainly happen to someone like me. None of us know which day will be our last. And as sad as this thought makes me, it is also a reminder of how wonderfully precious life is. A wise somebody once said that we should, “Live every day like it is our last.” And while I do think this is sound advice, I also think it is a bit too sad for my taste. It is hard to think of our last days without feeling a bit melancholy, and I don’t want to live every day like that.
Instead, I am going to try to live every day as if it is my first. Like a child. Full of the magic and wonder and true appreciation that comes from experiencing everything for the first time. Without the fear and regret we learn as we get older and “wiser”, and without the ambivalence that often comes with age. The world is full of amazing things and people and moments that, as adults, we often fail to recognize or even see.
My daughter’s new word is “Wow!” A bird in the sky gets a heartfelt “Wow!”; fitting the right puzzle pieces together gets a “Wow!”; seeing a dog on the street gets a “Wow!”; even my stepping out of the shower naked got a “Wow!” (It’s been a while since that happened, but I will try not to let it go to my head.) A bite of cheesecake, a big splash in the bath, my funky neon green nails, a great song, a perfect hi-five… all of these are deemed “Wow!” worthy by my daughter. And they are. Each and every day is full of these simple Wow! moments if we are young and wise enough to recognize them.
And while I hope that I have many, many (many, many, many, many) more Wow! moments left before my last day, I am going to try to live them all like they are my first.
photo credit: Frederic Mancosu via photopin cc