Like you at any given moment I have 100 things on my mind. I need a haircut. I can’t forget to pay that bill. What should I have for lunch? When did I last get my period? I need to send so-and-so a birthday card. Shit, did I miss their birthday? Don’t forget to call mom.
These thoughts, along with the 60,000 others we have each day, often take us away from what’s right in front of us. We get so caught up in what it is that we think we need to do that we forget to be present to what we’re actually doing.
This past week I spent time in Connecticut with my mom. My stepdad was going on a sailing trip and because of Mom’s Alzheimer’s, we thought it best that I come home to help her out while he was gone. The timing was perfect given that I had just gotten engaged a month prior and had not yet seen her. I was excited to shop venues, try on wedding dresses and get some quality mother-daughter time.
Given my mom’s disease I wasn’t sure if she was going to be fully present and able to participate in this exciting time of my life. I recognized before I got to Connecticut how precious our time together was going to be. I may never get to spend a week like this with her again. She’s rarely without my dad and given that I have a home, a dog, a fiancé and hopefully someday soon a baby, life may get harder for us to find the opportunity for it to be just her and me.
My mom’s memory is fading and on certain days her energy is very low. And although I don’t like to think about it the truth is at any moment things can go from okay to not. Alzheimer’s is a very unpredictable disease.
Several years ago my mom was having a really hard time with her work as a visiting nurse. She was spending hours filling out forms that previously had only taken her 45 minutes. Her patient notes were a mess and nearly impossible for anyone else to review. After several months she was put on medical leave.
So began a new chapter in my family’s life. One filled with sorrow and a lot of tears, based on patience with glimmers of what my mom calls her “good days.” We try to make each and every day, every walk with the dog, every trip to get a coffee and every phone call count. We are guaranteed only that no two days will be the same and that in every twenty-four hours there’s a gift, if we’re willing to look hard enough.
However, the need for appreciate and presence isn’t just the case for my life; this is how it is for all of us. And even though I may be running the risk of sounding paranoid or negative, it’s important to stop sometimes and recognize that every moment that you experience, you may never get to experience again. Remembering this is grounding and a little sad, but my God does it wake you up.
It serves as a strong reminder to fully cherish every moment that you have. It has become too easy to get distracted by phones, to-do lists and even just the thoughts in our heads. We’ve become pros at giving our attention on to anything other than what is happening right now. While you may not think of each moment of your life as special, the truth is that no matter what you’re doing or who you’re with there’s nothing more important than what’s right in front of you.
The moments you have you never get back. Whether you’re sitting in traffic dying to get home, laying in bed reading a book, or planning your wedding with your mom, there is a gift in every moment. And while it in writing this I run the risk of sounding cliché, I often appreciate when I’m reminded of the obvious things in life again and again. It’s so easy to forget what’s really important while we were busy thinking about other things.
*image courtesy of maaco