Thursday, May 4, 2017

When You Realize How Precious Life Is...You Choose to Fully Live



Anne Lamott has an extrordinarily simple way of thinking about life:  "I say to myself, 'okay, hmmm. Let's see.  Dying tomorrow. What should I do today?"

That may sound pretty crazy, pretty morbid, or pretty extreme.  It may sound impractical, ridiculous, or absurd.  But to me, it sounds like a pretty good way of thinking.  Especially after yesterday.

Yesterday, I found myself watching my six year old son get an EKG and echocardiogram as a very nice doctor carefully studied him for signs of rheumatic fever.  I learned I can hold my breath for practically a whole hour.  I thought maybe the doctor should hook me up to the EKG instead, the way my heart was beating wildly in my chest.  

I'll spare you most of the back story, but the long and short of it was this:  a few days ago, my son started not feeling well.  I thought he might have Lyme disease.  The pediatrician said "actually, it might be rheumatic fever and he needs to see a cardiologist right away to make sure there isn't permanent damage to his heart."  I blinked back tears in the office and stood there like a deer in headlights.  I made the appointment.  We went.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was only a of couple hours, the cardiologist told me that my son's heart is perfectly, 100% healthy.  He also hinted, in the most professional way possible that the PA who referred us to him may or may not have been on crack. "I'm sorry you had to drive all the way down here," he said.  "At least you'll be able to rest easy tonight knowing that your son is ok."

I was too relieved to feel angry with the PA, who, in her quest to do her due diligence and err on the side of extreme caution, made me come completely unglued at the thought of something being terribly wrong with my boy.  I carried him, like a six month old, rather than a six year old down the long corridors and out to the parking lot, whispering prayers of praise the entire way.

The rest of the day, I said "yes" to everything.  Yes, run around the kitchen with your brother...you're not driving me crazy, I promise.  Yes, have buttered noodles for dinner.  As a main course.  Yes, we can have a floor picnic and watch Bubble Guppies while we eat it.  Yes, I will hug you and kiss you incessantly, and tell you I love you 1,000 times in 20 minutes (and yes, you will look at me like I have lost all my marbles officially, and no I won't care that you are).

Yes, I will put my phone away and look at your face when you're talking to me.  Yes, I will treat you and your brother as if you are the most important things in this room.  Because you truly ARE.  And yesterday I learned it for maybe the millionth time in six years.  

I learned that life is too short not to be fully present in it.  Life is too short for "all nos, all the time."  Life is too short not to treat my kids and husband and everyone I love like the tremendous gifts they are to me.  

What would Anne Lamott do if she knew she was dying tomorrow?  "I would want to keep whatever I did simple, I think.  And I would want to be present,"  she says.

What would I do?  I would have buttered noodles (and probably a glass of sauvignon blanc) on the floor watching Bubble Guppies with my kids.  I would hug and kiss them and tell them I love them incessantly.  I would tell my husband and boys what an incredible gift they are to me.  I would put the dang phone on silent and put it in a drawer somewhere.

That's choosing to be present.  That's choosing to fully live. Yesterday, I was reminded of how much I want that.

Now someone please remind me of this every 15 minutes for the next 14 years.  


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