Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Live each day.

The past couple of months have taken a toll on my family - specifically on my dad's side.  In April, we said goodbye to his brother, my Uncle Grady, at the young age of 67.  Exactly 67 as he passed away on his birthday after a great day with family and friends. When he set his mind to something, he made it happen and in one visit made Parker a fan of the show COPS.  We knew he wasn't well ... we had our chance to say our goodbyes.

Sadly, that doesn't make it any easier when it happens.

This week my "Aunt" Sheila unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 66.  I say "Aunt" because although she's been my "Aunt" Sheila my entire life, she's technically my dad's cousin.  An incredible lady who lived a full and happy life. I had the opportunity to catch up with her last month during dinner after Grady's funeral. The most cherished conversation of catch up on her travels, her family and the importance of each day.. we didn't get to say goodbye.

Sadly, that doesn't make it any easier either.

When I look at my dad's family, I panic. A tearful, anxiety filled panic attack happens.  My grandpa passed away at 66.  My grandma at 68.  My uncle at 67.  My dad's cousin at 66.  My dad turned 65 last January.  I can barely breathe when I look at those numbers and think of him, anxiety fills my chest and tears flow uncontrollably. I remind myself that his grandmother, my great-grandma Sarah lived to be 104 -  surely he has enough orneriness in him to pull that off.

At least I hope.

I often see the quotes about how when we are kids we cannot wait to grow up but now that we are adults we wish we were kids again.  Life happens so fast. I am not sure anyone really prepared us for that, last month I was 5, last week I was 28 and today... today I am 40. Whaaaaaaaaaat?  I just blinked and I was all grown up.  And now my children are doing it too.  While my age doesn't bother me, the ages of my children - and my parents - does.

I had a terrific childhood.  While it wasn't perfect, it was filled with enough amazing memories for me to talk to you for days, if not weeks about it.  I would gladly be a kid again, not a teenager but an actual kid at home with my parents.  Those were great days. When I share my childhood memories with my children, I wonder if I am failing them and not giving them enough memories like I had to share when they are older.  I want them to remember more than tv and iPads.  

I don't completely hate being a grown up.  I love being a mom more than anything in this world. I love to make my own decisions - which explains why we have breakfast for supper so often - and make a difference in the world around me.  Sometimes I rock this adult thing.. other times, I screw up in the most unimaginable ways.  (I tell myself that is normal.)

What I don't like about growing up is death. Ok, I don't like bills or cleaning either but I can accept and live with those.  Death is much harder. I don't like losing people.  I don't like goodbyes. I don't like the pain that we who are still here on earth feel. I don't like the unpredictability of not knowing if everyone I love will wake up tomorrow... or if I will

I know we can't live forever... but this death part... it really bites.

I know you hear it from everyone but sometimes you need to hear it again, better yet - sometimes we need to see those real life examples to remind us to "Live each day to the fullest".   Last night, I was lucky enough to see it in the most amazing-what I want in life way.

While Parker was at track practice, I promised Allison a quick trip for ice cream at the Shake Shack (our most favorite ice cream place!).  A young couple ordered before us and sat down to eat their ice cream while waiting on their food. As we placed our order two of the most adorable white haired ladies I've ever seen strolled up behind us in line. It was very clear they were great friends with looks and single words that obviously meant something to them even if I had no idea what it meant as I caught their interactions from the corner of my eye. Before even saying a word to me, they made me smile.

As I was handed my sundae the lady in pink pants stepped near me and told me how delicious my butterscotch sundae looked.  While part of me wanted to step back and move away my ice cream that she was breathing on, the other part of me was completely drawn in by her personality, so - I responded with, "It's butterscotch, a traditional favorite I recommend"

At that moment she stuck out her tongue, wiggled it at my ice cream and made that "alalalalalalalalal" noise (that I have no idea how to put into letters to describe the sound of) and then said, "How many spoons did it come with?" 

"Just one, but we could ask for another" I laughed back in my reply while I was both completely amused and nervous she might actually lick my ice cream.

She looked around spotting the young guy eating his ice cream and exclaimed "Oh, there is more!" and heading his direction with her tongue out before noticing Allison's dish of lemon ice cream being handed to her.  Her eyes lit up when she saw it and said, "OH, is that for ME?"

Before Allison could answer, her friend reached over and touched her arm and while looking at me she said, "I don't let her out much" and both ladies burst into a cackling laugh which made me laugh right along with them.

The lady in pink smiled at me and said, "I can get away with this, I'm from out of town! No one here knows me!"  Her friend chimed in "like you act differently where people do know you!" and the cackling laughter returned.

They reminded me of my very best friend  Melissa and I. I could see us in them. (I won't say which I saw in who...) and a hundred instant memories flashed through my mind bringing a quiet laugh to the surface.

This lady, these two best friends who I could hear playfully bantering with each other as we walked to our car, were living life to the fullest.

It's a state of mind.  Making every part of your day enjoyable. Not just thinking outside of the box but actually leaping out of the box and doing something off the wall fun! Living life to the fullest doesn't mean you need unlimited amounts of money to be able to travel the world. It's enjoying the world and people around you, the every day experiences and making the ordinary just plain awesome.

While I am not sure I recommend sticking your tongue out and wiggling it around at stranger's ice cream (honestly not many can get away with that!), I am saying to smile more, have more fun, lighten up and just live in the very moment you are in.  Really LIVE that moment.

It's easy to be sucked down by the crap going on in our world, the endless postings of negativity you see in your social media news feeds.

It's easy to be frightened by the unknown, the fear of one day saying goodbye to someone you love and need in your life.  Or to worry about the "what if's" of when you are no longer here.

It's much easier to let that take control than to actually stand up, take control and live - but it's do able. Every single one of us has it inside of us.  We can do this!

Take time today, right now (ok, not "right now", finish reading my blog first please then use that "now" to start!) and live in the moment.

Forgive others, forgive yourself, love... yes - LOVE - deeply, honestly and passionately.  Find what makes you happy, find what makes you even better than you already are and do it!

Call the people you love, whether just to say "hello" or to say "I love you" and if you can't say it... text them, message them, post it on their Facebook page - I don't care how... just find a way to let them know.  These are not the regrets we want to have in life.

I don't want to focus on the "Goodbyes" I never got to say, I want to focus on today, right now, and being sure that everyone in my life knows how much they are loved, the difference they make in my everyday and how thankful I am for each of them.

I want to create memories that my children will tell their friends and one day waaaaaaaaay down the road their children or important people in their lives.

I want to make those around me smile, laugh and appreciate everything about life.  I want to build them up and watch them reach new heights.  I want to beam with pride and be able to say "That's my friend/child/sister/loved one"

I want to know that if I don't wake up tomorrow, there are no doubts in the minds of the people in my life about how important they are to me and how they made me a better person.

I want to take better care of me so I will wake up tomorrow and live another day to appreciate every moment, living it to the fullest and making our world a better place for everyone.

My dad, who watching his heart ache over the passing of his very loved family members inspired this blog, would realistically tell me "Want in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first" ... and he's right.  Wanting is very different from doing.

It's time to do.  All of this.  Every day.

No more wanting, just doing. Living - life to the fullest, every single moment of every single day.

I love you dad.

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