Stranger ThingsFebruary 7, 2011 at 9:15 am | Posted in Friends | 19 Comments
Tags: Balance, Cancer, Challenges, Children, Death, Family, Life, Parenting, Personal, Perspectives
This week, I’m thinking about a man I barely know. A stranger, really.
He married a good friend of mine from high school. I met him at their wedding. I saw him at two Christmas parties. I attended the baby shower for their daughter. I can count on one hand the number of times we talked.
But I am living a different life because of him.
He was quiet. So is my friend. They were a solid match, perfectly comfortable with each other and perfectly reserved with everyone else. Their daughter is a spitfire, a gregarious, independent little girl with pigtails and a Dora obsession.
She’ll only know her father from photos.
Just before she was born, he was diagnosed with cancer. Two months after her first birthday, he was gone.
He was healthy. He was active. He was 35. People like that are not supposed to die from cancer. They’re supposed to push their daughters in swings at the playground and build dollhouses on Christmas Eve. Teach them to drive a car and drive a nail. Share apple slices and secrets. They’re supposed to be there.
But he’s not. I can’t understand it. And I can’t forget it.
In the two years since his death, he has taught me to cherish the moment. Because all too soon, I’ll be out of moments. We all will.
Sometimes, I desperately want to fast-forward my life: when the baby has been up all night and I wake in a delirious fog that never clears. When Lollipop and Giggles can’t make it through two minutes without screaming at each other. When my to-do list goes on for pages and I don’t have the energy to accomplish even one thing. When we’re out of milk. Again.
Fast-forward. To something quieter. Something calmer. Something easier. Something better.
Then I think of him. And what he would give to have one more moment. Just one more.
He wouldn’t care if it was a loud, messy, complicated, tired, desperate moment. He would be here. Holding his wife. Hugging his daughter. Living his life.
And he’s why I’m trying to live mine with purpose and gratitude. For chaos. For noise. For stress. For exhaustion. For now.
What lessons have you learned from a stranger? How do you cope with mortality? How do you remember to savor each moment?