As Long as I'm Living

As Long as I'm Living

You only live once.
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When I was a little girl, my mother would read me this story each night as she would tuck me into bed. The story was about a mother watching her baby grow older, and walk through the different stages of life. And no matter how difficult and obnoxious he acted at certain times in his life, every night she would come into his room while he was asleep, rock him back and forth and sing, “I love you forever, I love you for always, as long as I’m living my baby, you’ll be.” At the end of the book, the mother is too old and frail to sing to his son. So instead, he picks his mother up and sings her the very same song she would sing to him.

And although I would make my mom read me this story all the time, it would make her cry, each and every time. I remember reaching the end of the book and already expecting to look over at her tear- streamed face. I do not think that as a little four year old I was able to comprehend the true depth and meaning of the story, and what exactly was making my mom so emotional.

However, it is only in light of recent events that I was finally able to understand the underlying melancholy theme of the bedtime story, and why my mom would squeeze me extra tightly after reading it each time.

“As long as I’m loving, my baby you’ll be.” Nothing in life is forever. And the mere fact that we do not have full control over the course of our own lives is extremely frightening. Here is a story of a mother putting the most precious thing in her life to sleep. She gives everything she has to this child and deals with so much; from the long, sleepless nights, to the illogical, toddler tantrums. No matter how hard he makes life for her sometimes, she would do anything for this little soul, sleeping peacefully in her arms. But at the end of the day, there is only so much she can do, as she is not the only one in control of what’s to come in life.

We all pray that life will take its course, and in the end, it will all culminate naturally. We dream about our future husbands, children, and grandchildren- fantasizing about the joy and light our futures will bring us. But sadly, there are so many who are not given the privilege to even go this far. It’s as if they are taken out of a game they were not yet ready to end. We don’t know why it all happens, but the pain that we’re left with is excruciating.

Sometimes I think about all of the people who were ripped away from their loved ones too soon. I wonder if they too would read this story to their children each night, and promise to be by their side, “As long as [they’re] living.” I wonder if they would pray to only be separated at the right time. But what happens when the time just comes too soon?

These thoughts are painful, and I do not in any way believe that we should go through life with the sound of a biological clock ticking in our ears. However, I do think that sometimes we need to remember that we only live once, not matter how short that time may be.

Too often I find myself waiting for tomorrow. I complain that I’m too young, and wish to be older.. for my life to be settled, and for everything to be perfect. But I’m only realizing now that that life is not guaranteed to me. The only thing I am certain of is right now. The present. This very second. So what will I do with it? Well, for one I should learn to enjoy it. Because from what it seems like, life doesn’t get any easier. With each phase comes different challenges, and I’ll just have to learn to get through them.

Therefore, I’ve decided to make a list. At the end of each day, as I’m getting into bed I’m going to list three things that made me smile that day. They can be as minuscule as seeing someone who made me happy, or hearing a certain song that brought back good memories. Whatever it was, it’ll be put onto paper, so that whenever I feel upset, or eager to be at a different place in life, I’ll review my list to remind myself of how much I have at that very moment.

And one day, if I’m fortunate enough to hold my own, sleeping baby after a long day, I’ll be able to read through my list and remember that each day brings light, and I must cease it for “as long as I’m living.”

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For My Niece, I Make These 7 Wishes

Today, you run and play and I will continue to pray.
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Happy Birthday, Emma!

At the risk of sounding like an old woman, I can remember when you were born and can't believe how quickly time has passed.

It feels like yesterday that you were just a fidgeting lump of a baby, red and wrinkly and crying. It has been an honor watching you grow the past two years, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you.

However, as you grow, I wish that you will...

1. Stay Fearless

I love that you aren't scared of anything. I hope you always dive into life head first, living it to the fullest embracing the consequences as they come.

2. Practice Caution

In remaining fearless, I hope you use caution and good judgment. Be smart when you should, and do not take unnecessary risks. Remember life is meant to be lived, but it is not meant to be wasted. I pray you always know the line between fearless and reckless and practice discretion.

3. Stay Strong

Admittedly, it is entertaining to watch you wrestle your older, much stronger brother. I hope you never lose your strength, in any of its forms. Life will test you, but I hope you always look at the challenges like a wrestling match with your brother, believing that there is no problem you cannot overcome.

4. Stay Soft

I love the way you look at life with wonder and amazement in your eyes. The world is cold and harsh, and it will test you. No matter what journey life takes you on, I hope you remain soft. Remain trusting and forgiving, and always know that there are good people in the world, no matter what.

5. Keep Laughing

The sound of your giggle lights up a room. Keep laughing, even when you want to cry. Know that there are bad days, not bad lives. Laugh at your failures as well as your successes, and learn from them all.

6. Stay Confident

This world will try to tear you down, making you feel unworthy, but I pray that you remain invincible, knowing that you are always enough. Don't change yourself for anyone or anything. Instead, make the world change for you.

7. Always Know You Are SO Loved

No matter how old you get, you will always be the blonde, curly-headed, giggling little girl I have fallen in love with. Live life knowing that no matter what you do, where you go, or how old you get, you will always be the blonde, curly-headed, giggling little girl who stole my heart. Please know that I will always be here for you, as will your whole family. Growing up, there may be times you hate us all, but we will ALWAYS love you. Never ever forget that.

Today, you are still young, and I am still watching you grow, fearful of what the cruel world will try to do to you. I wish I could put you in a bubble, shielding you from the hurt that will come. While I cannot protect you from everything, I vow to always help you through life.

Today, you run and play and I will continue to pray.

So, once again, happy birthday.

Love Always,

Aunt Shy

Cover Image Credit: Shyanne Reynolds

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To My Distant Friend, We Don't Always Talk But I'm Here For You

I know we haven't spoken in a while, but you're still my best friend.
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Dear Distant Friend,

I wanted to start off by saying thank you.

When I started college I thought I'd have so much time for my friends from back home that went to other universities but, I don't have as much time as I thought — classes and studying are overwhelming and I forget to check in or say hi like I used to. The daily conversations turn to weekly talks and before I know it it's been months since we've spoken.

I know we haven't talked in weeks or months, but wanted to tell you how much I love and appreciate you. We can pick up like no time passed and everything between us is the same and I am so thankful for that.

I'm constantly put on blast for not texting back or snapchatting back, but I promise I could never truly forget about my friends.

Having friends I know I can count on no matter what happens and no matter how much time has passed really keeps me sane.

Sometimes I am distant and sometimes I'll forget to tell you good luck on your math test or forget to ask how your day was, but you are always in the back of my mind and always on my heart.

Life gets overwhelming sometimes and it is totally understandable to not remember your phone is nearby and to make conversation, but I promise it means so much to hear from my friends a simple "Hey girl! Miss you! Hope you're doing well!"

We all have new friends and new teammates at college but don't forget about those friends you made in middle school and high school. They're just as important, if not more.

So again I say it, thanks for dealing with me popping in and out. Thanks for handling me when I go missing and when I forget to say that you're important to me.

Sincerely,

I'm Sorry I Forgot To Text You Back... Again

Cover Image Credit: Alex Russell

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