08 August 2006

Celebrations Of The Little Things…

Every once in a while, I think we are all given little 'Wake Up' calls. Either something happens to someone we know or someone says something to you that really resonates with something inside of you (if you have a heart) and the little voice that resides in everyone (who has a conscience) prods us to remember to celebrate the little things. It’s easy to celebrate holidays and some of us can remember birthdays and anniversaries (if we have a memory).

I think that I didn’t learn this lesson early enough in my life. I’m left with a lot of shoulda, coulda, woulda moments of regret that need to be replaced with the celebration of life, in the moment. 

Did you notice how fast your parents and siblings were growing when you, yourself are a child? Did you think about or even realize that there would soon come to a time when because of school, work, military service, marriage, and all the other myriad of detritus that life hands you, that you would no longer live with them?  In many cases you would physically live far away from them?  I don’t ever remember stopping long enough to take an actual or mental picture of those days in my mind to keep in my memories.

The years flew by, I don’t know where they have all gone but I have very few actual pictures of my childhood, school, military service, my husband and I when we were first married. There are lots of pictures of Nicole when she was a baby. The pictures, however, become scarce as the rest of the children came along. It is not because we were any less proud of them or happy that they came along. I think that the worries of everyday life become exponential with each child. Worries that eat at our ability to enjoy life in the moment. We are even less likely to stop and celebrate the little things in life.

September 11th gave many people I know the wake up call I speak of, but like human nature often is, the lesson, no matter how horrific in it’s execution, softens with time. We don't forget, but it becomes blurred with age.  I don’t know when this realization happened for me. It was before September 11th. I think it started just after my husband and I got married. I started asking questions of relatives about their lives. I started writing down their stories. I started keeping track of my immediate genealogy, although at the time, I didn’t realize what I was doing. It eventually evolved into tracing both my parents genealogy back to the time their ancestors immigrated to North America. It wasn't far to find the 1st generation American’s. All four of my grandparents came to the United States from Canada and were the first ones to stay. I count myself lucky to know their life story.

Our own children are growing so fast. Nicole and Danielle’s childhood moments are overshadowed by the struggle of survival, because both my husband and I separated from active duty within 6 months of each other during the last national economic downfall. We were then blessed with Rachel but like so many other people, we struggled with everyday worries. We both worked 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet until I became pregnant with Erin, our youngest.

After that, a disability I had received in the military finally left me unable to take care of not only myself but our children. I feel like I have lost about 7 years of my life. It has been a very long road back. During this time, our families and our truly closest friends and family, John and Kelly were what kept us going. 

I have learned to try not to miss the little milestones that come to us every day. They come whether you stop long enough to appreciate them or not. So many times they can pass you by and you mourn their loss when you finally realize they are gone. I forgot where I read that life does not have any ‘do-overs’ but occasionally you will be blessed with a ‘do-again’.

Despite not having most of my family and friends around lately, I have lately found pleasure in the moments with Erin. At 8 years old she is still my baby. She is growing and her personality is becoming more pronounced. She tackles life so differently than the other three. I have blown off most of the housework this week. It will keep. I’m going on treasure hunts and exploring the world through the eyes of Erin. I am collecting these moments of time in my memories to be taken out at some future date to be relived and enjoyed again. I am not going to try not having to re-live another moment of regret for this time that I was given with her.

If you want to know how this lesson solidified in my mind…the moment that I truly learned this lesson… it was the first time my husband was in the mid-east. He would send the kids and I pictures of grass. Yes, you read that right. There was this one spot where everyone threw out their wash water and eventually a straggly excuse for grass started growing. My husband had a picture of himself taken sitting in this 3 ft by 3ft patch of grass. He was cross legged and his eyes were closed. His hands were in the position of someone meditating and saying 'ooooohhhhmmm, ooooohhhhmmmm.' (Man that man cracks me up!)

He also would pick these small flowers that he would find among the rocks. Proof that life will survive in the most unlikeliest and most inhospitable places on earth. They do not stop growing because of the war being waged. Their ability to exist with such beauty is a testament to life. My husband used paper, plastic wrap and cardboard from his care packages to press these flowers. He brought them home to us and when he returns to the mid-east our daughters and I will be using his away time mounting and framing them for our rooms.

I usually write my quote of the day as a way to wrap up a point to my posts. Today I will only impart my own humble message. “It is not always possible to live in the moment, but when the opportunity does present itself….do not waste it for it is precious and may not come again.”

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