I can remember, from the first hint of a bump, the way people would lavish their wisdom upon me. Some days I took the words as a gift, other times they came as jarring admonitions.
Safest your kids will ever be, is right there in your belly.
The days are long, but the years are short.
Just wait ’til she’s a teenager, she’s gonna hate you.
You’re going to miss this.
It’ll be over in a blink.
I’d like to think that I was somewhat graceful in how I received these things, at least on the outside, though I’m sure an occasional lip snarl was visible. As the years have gone by, faster than even those strangers promised, I find myself reconsidering what they said. I soften, toward them and toward the inevitable ways we resist the advice of those further down the path. Wisdom tickles at my own lips as people around me lift a toe toward ground I’ve trod. I hold back, but only barely.
I come home and think that I should remember those words, I should heed the advice of people intimate with just how quickly one day becomes I should have. I have the best of intentions, but even the best intentions can fall victim to the cumulative weight of 8 hours of being pelted by one thing or another. When the trek from the driveway to the mudroom has the ability to spark squabbles between the girls over, from what I can tell, absolutely nothing and when the dog vies desperately for my attention when all I want, for-the-love-of-all-that-is-good, is a moment to finally pee, I wonder if my priorities are completely out of whack. Defeated, frustrated and frozen because I just want the chance to pee after unreasonably setting aside that most basic need to take another meeting.
This moment, which doesn’t happen every day, makes me feel the deepest kind of shame. I chose everything that I have—daughters, business, people who love me. How dare I wish for those things to fall away entirely so that I can what, go to the bathroom and then linger to obsess over my deepening 11 wrinkle?
Yesterday I was in the blurry moments of transition, when I leave the office to meet the bus, but my responsibilities don’t end—emails still come through, calls flash on my phone. I was about to close my laptop when I saw the news about Boston. I didn’t at first know what it really meant, so often do horrifying headlines flash from the screen. I clicked and began to understand. I thought back to Sean and Ave at Fewnway on Saturday, then I thought back to September 11th 2001 and being on our way to Logan. I thought of Newtown, of Ransom, and of Dawn, I thought back to my accident, and I felt everything slip away.
I tried to understand what it was, but the best I could do was sense a letting go, detachment coursing through me. Again. Like unwanted wisdom from the universe. Doesn’t matter how good. Doesn’t matter how pure. Lives will end, abruptly and without notice. Moms will die. Sons will die. Senseless tragedy will strike even as you feel as if you are still grieving from the last time.
What is the lesson?
…to anticipate inevitable loss?
…be grateful for every moment?
…to hate those who do evil?
…to lift up those focused on good?
I want this time to be different. I want to remember what has happened and be conscious of my blessings in every moment. I have no doubt that I’ll try. I’ll continue lingering over my sleeping girls, I’ll be kind to those around me, and strive to focus more on good than evil. I hope I will always be surprised when evil visits, just as I hope I’ll have the discipline to focus on the very good things that exist in the world but don’t hold the headlines quite so long.
I suppose this is all a longwinded way of saying that perhaps the pearls people try to give us, no matter how crudely, are in fact gifts. Just as life is, in each moment, whether we are aware of it or not, a beautiful thing.
Be tender to all those you meet, because as the saying goes, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.