This past week, I had a very unique opportunity. I visited both sides of my extended family back-to-back, an effort that took me from my hometown in Wisconsin to the seas of corn in Iowa then tumbling onto the sands of New Jersey.
These years have become too sparsely dotted with days that I am able to enjoy the company of my grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and the like; especially as my parents are divorced and time is split down the middle too frequently as it is. Being submerged into their respective mini-universes for the past week has shown me how much I have missed by living apart from them.
By no means am I an estranged family member, and visits do happen every year. But, this time, it was different.
Different mostly because my grandmothers are both getting on in years, aging gracefully as they always have.
Human beings tend to procrastinate experiencing life fully, with all the emotional twists and turns that come along with it, until we are threatened with its departure.
As our loved ones age, moments that beforehand might have seemed trivial or even irritating transform before your eyes into slivers of platinum. You feel gratitude for the littlest things, and the immediacy of the emotion combined with a shot of regret kicks you in the rear enough to wake you up to the present moment.
It makes me wonder why we as a species can’t seem to live on this level of consciousness at all times. How unfortunate is it that only impending loss can trigger such joy and tangible emotion?
Take your time, take a breath and enjoy what’s in front of you.
The trick is to not let fear drive; it can sit in the backseat, keep you safe and make you focus, but never let it sit at the wheel when the danger is gone.
The fear of death should never be the focus; instead, let the love of life take the reins.