I’ve never been close enough to death to know if your life flashes before your eyes. If it does, I hope it’s the important moments, the moments within moments which, out of context, seem irrelevant to everyone else but stick with you for the rest of your life.
Everyone’s memorable moments are unique, like snowflakes on the breeze, precious only to the individual who has cataloged and valued them accordingly.
Maybe it’s the moments you should have been thankful for, but weren’t that flash unbidden when you breathe your last. That wouldn’t be so good. That’s a lot of guilt to shoulder for a life that’s about to be snuffed out. What I am sure of is that if anything flashes before your eyes as you untether from this mortal coil, it won’t be the mundane things we put so much importance upon, like climbing the corporate ladder or trying to impress strangers you care nothing for.
It’s Thanksgiving morning, and I’m in a hotel room in St. Louis, Missouri. I am not alone. My girls and wife are with me, but they’re still asleep. I try to be quiet so as not to wake them, but the little one sleeps like a frightened hare, so she’s already stirring even though the only sound is my clicking away on my laptop and the hum of the heating unit in the room.
She opens her eyes and smiles. She shimmies to the corner of the bed, brushes at her pajamas, and whispers, “look at my pajamas, daddy, they have candy canes on them, candy canes! Can we get some candy canes after breakfast?”
I smile, nod, and put my finger to my lips. “Let mommy and sissy sleep. We’ll talk about the candy canes later.” She crawls back into bed and snuggles up against her mother.
Another moment to be filed away and remembered for years to come. Bright red pajamas with giant candy canes, bed hair, and a crooked smile. The conspiratorial look in her eye when she asks about getting candy canes later, knowing it’s a conversation just between the two of us.
We are supposed to learn to number our days. It’s not so we can keep track of getting older, though; it’s to gain a heart of wisdom. Part of that wisdom, I think an important part, is learning to be thankful for the things that matter rather than the things that don’t. What you are thankful for is just as important as being thankful. For some people assigning the correct value to life’s moments is a struggle. Eventually, they learn, sometimes too late to do anything about it.
The older one sits up in bed, rubbing at her eyes. “Daddy, did you know that a peacock’s wife is called a peahen?” I didn’t. I didn’t even know peahen was a word. I guess it is true that you learn something new every day, sometimes even from your eight-year-old daughter.
I’ll have to wake them up soon. We still have a solid five-hour drive ahead of us, and we need to be home before three. Turkey dinner isn’t going to eat itself, and since we’re still here, we probably shouldn’t let it go to waste.
Life is a tapestry of moments. Be thankful for everyone. Cliché as it may sound, it’s every moment up to this present time that has brought you to this place. If the place you’re in is not where you want to be, take the requisite steps to alter your course. If your list of priorities is wonky and needs to be reworked, don’t put it off until the option to do so is taken from you.
Life is a fleeting thing at best. I look at my daughters and can still remember when I held them so gently, as though they were made of fine porcelain and would crack at the slightest touch. Now they call me old man and know what a peahen is.
Sometimes we’re so focused on the destination that we miss out on the beauty of the journey. Take the scenic route as often as you can. Take the time to make memories. Be diligent in smiling and making others smile, and be thankful for every grace bestowed upon you. Happy Thanksgiving!
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.