I have long known that as I go through the daily routine of life as a mother, I don't often enough stop to pay attention to what's really happening around me. I look across the dinner table and see three big kids where three babies once sat.
And then there are the times that the fragility of life finds you, whether you want it to or not.
On a normal morning on an otherwise normal day, I scanned through all the little red icons on my phone. Notification after notification, I handled them each as I saw them. Just like normal.
And then something horrifically abnormal happened.
I saw a picture of my friend, and her announcement that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Shocked and horrified, I called my husband.
“I know,” he told me. “I heard, too. I was going to tell you tonight.”
I sat back and stared blankly. I held the phone to my ear, but neither one of us spoke. Finally, my husband broke the silence.
“Are you OK?” he asked.
I nodded as if he could see me, then, realizing the obvious, I found my voice.
“Yeah,” I said blandly. “Talk to you later.”
Yes, I'm OK, I thought as I hung up. How can I respond any other way? Look what that woman is facing today!
I thought of her. I didn't know her that well, but what I knew was incredible. A health devotee, young, beautiful … and a mother of three young children close in age to my own. I thought back to the first time I heard her name.
“You have to meet these people,” my husband told me one night as he recounted meeting her and her husband. “You would really like them.”
He was right. This couple and their children had such parallels to our lives. I had found someone so easy to relate to in many ways.
I should have made more of an effort to spend time with her, I thought as tears sprang to my eyes. Then her young children came to my mind, and I wept for them. Their mother's diagnosis was grim. They would have to say goodbye to her far too soon. Having lost my own father to the disease, I felt their pain. My friend's thoughts as she faced this monster were unimaginable.
Mere weeks passed, and after a valiant fight, my friend lost her battle. She did it as beautifully and gracefully as she had lived, and thousands of those she touched gathered in unison to mourn her. Her words and sentiments – all expressed with what seemed like an impossible kindness in the midst of what she endured – are like a legacy. I can hear her saying:
“Show your love.”
And so, in her honor, I'll wake up more excited than ever to hug my kids. I'll find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'll take more joy in a sunny day, and even the rigors of math homework.
It's all about appreciating what we have.