“Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink,
and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by
without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment
of its swift, breakneck circuit?”
Every now and then even the cheeriest among us find ourselves neck-deep in a pit of despair, with neither the energy nor the desire to claw our way out of the murky mire. We willingly surrender to self-pity and allow our worries and woes to consume us, sometimes for days on end and sometimes for even longer. The stronger ones (I am not among them) eventually fight their way out of the pit and back into the sunshine, but the rest of us (myself included) sometimes wallow in our misery until something tragic happens to someone else–and that tragic something gives us a much-needed kick in the rear and reminds us that we don’t have it so bad after all.
When I was a little girl, we had one television in our home, a mid-size console that broadcast two channels in fuzzy black and white. My dad decided which channel we watched–which is why every Saturday at 6 p.m. we were tuned in to the cornpone humor of Hee Haw. I’m reminded of a recurring skit on the show in which Roy Clark, Archie Campbell, Gordie Tapp and Grandpa Jones mourned into their moonshine jugs:
“Gloom, despair and agony on me,
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery.
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all;
Gloom, despair and agony on me.”
Yep, that pretty much describes how I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve been bombarded with a series of small, frustrating health issues that have robbed too much of my time and energy and poisoned my thought process. My head hurts. My back hurts. My neck hurts. My blood pressure is too high, and my memory is too short. I’ve spent entire days crumpled in my recliner, swallowing Advil, cuddling with a heating pad and staring forlornly at the sunshine on the other side of the window.
Poor, poor, pitiful me.
My heart ached (and still does) for all the people along the East Coast whose lives were devastated recently by the ravages of Hurricane Sandy. I watched newscast after newscast, day after day, anxious for updated details on their plight, and even though I sympathized and empathized and prayed, their sad stories still weren’t enough to shake me from my self-imposed misery.
And then . . .
And then yet another friend received a grim cancer diagnosis.
And then a young man in our small community lost his life in a car accident.
And then yet another young man met the same tragic end.
And then two more men died suddenly in separate incidents.
In the space of a heartbeat, in the blink of an eye, lives were changed forever. And while one wife was trying to enjoy the few remaining months she has with her beloved husband, other wives were mourning the sudden loss of their own. Parents were mourning the loss of their sons, children were mourning the loss of their fathers, countless friends were mourning the loss of their buddies–and all were asking the same, heart-breaking question: “Why?”. There is no acceptable answer, no explanation that can bring any degree of comfort to the loved ones left behind.
I know the pain of a father lost (and a mother, too), but I cannot imagine the agony of losing a child or a husband–and I selfishly pray that I never join the ranks of those with first-hand knowledge. I am weak, and I am ashamed. These senseless tragedies so close to home, so close to my heart, have jolted me awake like nothing else could, and I have been reminded once again how very precious life is and how we are guaranteed nothing–nothing!–but the present moment. How many of those moments have I carelessly let slip away while I fretted over problems so petty and so small?
I could have been dreaming, contemplating, creating.
I could have been sharing my heart, lending my ear, giving my time.
I could have been loving deeper, holding tighter, smiling brighter.
I could have been begging forgiveness, whispering joy, shouting encouragement.
I could have been finding answers in the blazing fire, peace in the sunset, beauty in the wildflower.
I could have been doing any number of worthwhile things instead of sitting in a recliner, feeling sorry for myself and letting one precious moment after another evaporate into nothingness.
As I watch the sun rising over the hillside on this crisp November morning, my heart is heavy for all those struggling to face this day without their loved ones, and I have no words that can ease their agonizing pain or bring back the precious moments stolen from them.
But that same rising sun reminds me that today is a new day, and I will not take this day for granted. I have a good life, a beautiful life filled with family and friends who love me even when I’m at my most unlovable, and I hope I never again forget how blessed I am to have another moment to share with them.
“Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours,
each set with sixty diamond minutes.
No reward is offered for they are gone forever.”