And Then You Blink…

You Only Live OnceI didn’t plan to write this post. It isn’t scheduled; it isn’t in my planner or on a calendar and there is no outline. But I had to write it. A childhood friend of mine passed away last week. She was my age. One moment she was there. The next she was hooked up to machines with her son having to make the decision to end life support. All these years passed us by, but whenever we would chat it never felt far off from when we were teenage girls listening to New Kids on the Block debating over whether the band members or Johnny Depp were better looking (as far as I was concerned, it was totally Johnny Depp. She would have picked Donnie Wahlberg). Now she’s gone. We blink and life changes in an instant. You only live once.

My nineteen year old bonus daughter, L, is pregnant with her first child. In July I will be a bonus grandmother. My husband will be a grandpa and that’s almost unreal. Words like grandmother and grandfather; it’s pretty wild. Neither of us planned on becoming grandparents so young, but the universe has plans of its own and we are thrilled to be welcoming a beautiful baby girl into our lives this summer.

Since we moved to Arkansas I’ve observed changes in myself. Being a bonus/stepmother from San Diego was definitely not the same as it is being here, and of course it couldn’t possibly be. I’m more involved. I’m more worried. I feel excitement, disappointment and anticipation for our time with the girls even more profoundly than I did before. Now I better understand mourning the loss of their childhoods. I’ve always believed you give children a life to live, so you should celebrate that they’re living it. Then things happen like K’s mom sending a photo of her after getting ready for the daddy/daughter dance and she looks like an almost teenager.  “Ah stop growing up!” I exclaimed. She’s ten going on twenty-five and I just want the clock to stop ticking for a moment while her daddy is the only man in her life and Littlest Pet Shop, an art easel and family Pictionary games are the entertainment options of choice. When the sixteen year-old is becoming a drop-dead gorgeous woman, now has a driver’s license and you remember when she was twelve, jumping all over her dad, holding his hand in public and now you’re just happy to get time with her, you go back four years and long for those moments again. You recall when the nineteen and twenty year olds were still in high school while now there is college, part-time jobs, late nights out, boyfriends and bills of their own. You realize just how quickly time does its thing.

K’s friend spent the night over spring break and we took them to a local bowling alley that has bumper cars. I observed a mom trying to get her two teenage sons to look at her camera phone and smile. I’m sure she was thinking that soon enough they’d be behind the wheel of real cars. In typical teenager fashion, they rolled their eyes and gave her a hard time, annoyed that their mother would subject them to such humiliation. I could see the look of hurt in her eyes. I could feel the ache in her heart. My husband would give anything to have one more moment with his parents. Those boys didn’t know how good they have it. I wanted to tell them, but I didn’t. I just silently hurt with her for a moment.

I had to take L to the Emergency Room a few nights ago after an allergic reaction. She is okay. In fact, she’s more than okay and has had a pregnancy which would be the envy of many women. When we arrived they put her in a room next to a woman who was sobbing.  A curtain divided us from seeing each other, but we could hear her pain.

I already knew.

I walked out and asked a nurse to move her. At first she protested. The second time I asked, I was obliged. The woman had just lost her baby. She sobbed and cried. I could hear her agony and I ached for her, a mother who would never get to meet her child.

Life is amazing, sometimes awful, fleeting and fragile.

Most of us have heard the saying you only live once. I would disagree. We live every single day. We die once. In-between your blinks remember that while we’re not promised a tomorrow, we have a today.

Don’t waste it.