“The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you finish the work.” Patricia Clafford
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the same exact wish: that my life be blessed with laughter, friendship and love.
I remember looking up at the stars wishing this wish as a young child, pondering over it during puberty as a troubled teenager, chasing after it as a young ambitious adult, and closing my eyes and trying to actually live it as the now me, middle-aged woman who looks back at me in the mirror.
We’ve all been taught that we need money to meet our needs, shelter to protect ourselves from the elements and harm, good nutrition and clean water to keep our bodies healthy and fit, and clothing, of course, to stay warm, clean and accepted in society.
But, if we have laughter, friendship and love first…wouldn’t all of those other things just naturally fall into place?
Think about it…if you’re joyful and laughing, if you are blessed with friendships that both give and take, if you are loved, appreciated and made to feel “whole,” regardless of your personal circumstances, then in most cases, you already feel secure, safe, sheltered, healthy and warm. And for those of us who feel this way, we relax, we believe in ourselves…and things, generally, fall perfectly into place.
I believe that it is when we second guess what our actual needs are that we end up running into trouble.
You and I, we’re human, making each one of us vulnerable to what I call the “human condition.” The fact that, somewhere along the line, we struggle to remember what life is all about, becoming distracted and losing our way in random areas and on all-too-familiar paths. It happens at different times for different people, at varying levels of intensity. The lucky ones recognize it and change their ways, going on to live amazing in-the-moment lives…but others, although perhaps also recognizing it, remain still, stay trapped, contemplating change, yet, in not know how to go about it, they put that change off for “tomorrow.”
For me, strangely enough, this dilemma started with parenthood. If you’ve read my blog before, you are aware that having several children was something that I obviously wanted very much, and worked very hard at to achieve. Yet, I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t always “present” with the one child that I did have. And it hit me one day that, if I’m not present in my life, then…well, won’t I miss it all?
My first son…he cried. I rushed to feed him. Did I even pause to notice the adorable way he puckered up his lips when he was angry?
He needed to be changed. I rushed to change him. Did I laugh out loud at that stubborn habit of his, the way he kicked and fought with his legs when I tried to change his diaper?
He was tired. I rushed to put him to sleep. Did I prolong the experience, look at him, feel him, notice how soft and beautiful he felt in my arms?
As he grew older, he wanted to read books, play games, go to the park, talk and babble, “help” in the kitchen, dance and sing and party all day. Did I join in? Of course I did, sometimes, but I was a nervous mom, and even when I did join in, I was often distracted, consumed in my mind with all of the other things I had yet to accomplish in each day. As a new mom, I got completely caught up with doing things “right.” All of a sudden, parenthood was about providing my son with the perfect meals, the perfect home, the appropriate socialization activities…the best schools.
I look back at myself and wish, quite frankly, that I’d had a persnickety guardian angel right there by my side to lightly shake me awake…to slap my face…to scream in my ear: “WAKE UP!”
Then I lost five children, one right after the other…Gabriel, Boo, Peanut, Pumpkin and Keanu. Five deaths, five wake-up calls…five gifts.
The alarm had been rung. I couldn’t hit snooze anymore. My son was aging, he was growing up. It was time for me to rub my eyes, to clear the haze. So I began to wish the wish that I’ve always wished, from the very start…bless me with laughter, friendship and love.
I remember the day it happened. It was somewhere in between my first and last loss. My son, Julian, was young, but somehow he knew that I wasn’t “there,” that my body was going through the motions, but that my mind was consumed with useless thoughts and worries. And so he walked over to me that day, placed his hands on my cheeks, held my head still, then moved in close, touching his nose to my nose where we stayed, frozen, for several long moments.
“Hi, Mama,” he finally said, breaking the stare by moving into my arms.
And my wish came true. I felt laughter, friendship and love bubbling up inside of me. In his arms, in that moment, I instantly knew what I needed to do…
From that day on, with Julian’s help, I learned to flutter.
“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”
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