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.”